The most common misconceptions about children doing ballet are based on understandable parents’ fears. But how close are they to reality?
Myth 1. They force children to stand on pointe shoes causing irreparable harm to the developing skeleton.
Reality. Any dangerous impact on the child's body during the ballet practice is out of the question. Transition to pointe shoes is the most important moment in learning, and it will take place only when the child is ready physically and psychologically. In classes with a competent ballet teacher, the load always corresponds to the age, and there are no more risks of injury than in dancing or sports.
You shouldn't be afraid of harmful effects on the young body and the developing skeleton either. On the contrary, it has been proven that ballet is effective in correcting flat feet that children have so often today. Regular exercises will also help strengthen the muscles of the back and legs - and all parents dream of a beautiful and healthy posture for their child!
Myth 2. Children in ballet are forced to diet.
Reality. One of the most widespread misconceptions is the myth about the ballet dancers’ eating habits. You can hear that adult dancers, both male and female, have many bans in their diet too. However, in reality, ballet dancers eat a great variety of foods. Meat, desserts and even occasional cheat meals are permissible even to those who take the big theater stage on a regular basis - let alone those who take their first steps in ballet.
Of course, future ballet dancers should have proper nutrition in childhood and adolescence, but these principles are also relevant for athletes and everyone who cares about their health and leads an active lifestyle. A balanced diet allows you to handle the serious physical load in choreographic schools.
Myth 3. Ballet is an expensive hobby available only to the elite.
Reality. This concern is familiar to many parents, who are only deciding which sports or art activities to choose for their children. Professional kids’ sports, dancing or ballet are not cheap, indeed. Especially if the child is going to study with honored teachers in leading schools and studios. At the same time, if we compare ballet with rhythmic gymnastics or figure skating, for example, the cost of costumes and equipment required for classes and performances in the case of ballet will be noticeably less.
And if you start doing ballet for general physical development, bearing and cultural advancement, if you do it for self-improvement rather than for a great ballet future, such a hobby won’t cost more than dancing.
Myth 4. Ballet is only for girls. Ballet classes make boys slight, girlish and even form inclinations to homosexuality.
Reality. There are objectively fewer boys among the children studying in ballet schools and studios. Perhaps, the gender gap would not have been as noticeable if not for this myth.
In fact, ballet classes, like classical dancing in general, develop male musculature and endurance; as for the role of a strong partner in ballet lifts and duet performances, it can hardly be overestimated. Even if the boy doesn’t dedicate his life to the professional stage, the acquired strength and flexibility, musicality and artistry will remain with him and will come in handy. Finally, homosexual inclinations can’t be "developed", but a fine artistic nature in a child can be nurtured. Especially, if they have prerequisites and personal interest in this.
Myth 5. Ballet is good only for quiet and phlegmatic children.
Reality. "My child never stands still! With his hyperactivity, he won't be able to bear even one ballet lesson!" This misconception is common among parents too. We’ve got a mental image of ballerina girls standing in a row bolt upright, diligently pointing one toe and then the other during the whole lesson.
Real classes in a children's ballet school or studio are different. Slow stretching and exercises at the barre are an important part of the lesson, but there is also a dynamic warm-up, learning sequences of movements and, finally, dance improvisations and action games to music. Boring and monotonous - this is definitely not about children's ballet!
Myth 6. Children's ballet is just P.E. to classical music.
Reality. “They just jump! It looks like a pre-school P.E. lesson!" Some parents get such a feeling after watching a short video from class or attending an introductory lesson. It seems that ballet done by children differs from an ordinary P.E. lesson only in the classical musical accompaniment and the uniform students wear.
However, this is a misconception too. From the very first lessons, ballet teachers immerse children in the atmosphere of classical dance and world art, they just do it gradually and while playing. Most likely, at the very first reporting concert or open lesson, your child will dance the part of a funny animal, not a young swan. And this role will, surely, be closer and more interesting for the young artist! Don’t worry, serious ballet parts, characteristic and dramatic roles will follow, as everything has its time.