It is both appropriate and often necessary for dance students to remain in the same class level for multiple years before continuing to the next level. Unlike academic studies where a student progresses a grade level each year, in dance training it is quite normal to spend several years in one level in order to properly assimilate all the necessary material.
The training of a dancer is based on the consistent repetition of movements. Every dancer develops at his/her own pace. As such some dancers will demonstrate a stronger understanding of the material sooner than others. Especially in younger children, understanding of both vocabulary and the movement can only be accomplished when the physical body has gained more coordination and has grown strong enough to handle more complicated movement. Ballet requires a lot of repetitive movement to properly train the mind and body.
Edge Performing Arts is conservative about the age at which a female student may begin training on pointe. Many students are strong enough physically and advanced enough technically to begin pointe work at age eleven. Most of our dancers will take a pre-pointe class prior to beginning pointe work in order to build strength and technique. It can be dangerous to start a student on pointe too early in the process of training. The student must have a thorough understanding of proper body alignment, as well as ankle, foot, leg and abdominal strength to prevent injury or the development of chronic conditions, such as tendonitis. A student who begins pointe work too early may also develop bad habits in an effort to stand on pointe when they are not strong enough to do so properly. There is no urgency to begin pointe work at an early age, as a well-trained dancer easily acclimates to pointe shoes. Students who start pointe work too early are often discouraged by the difficulty of proper execution which they did not anticipate. It is much wiser to wait until the appropriate time when the student is physically ready and can achieve the anticipated results. For these reasons, EPA errs on the side of caution when deciding the appropriate time to place a student on pointe. Please respect these decisions as what we feel is best for the overall health, safety, and training of our dancers.
We hope this information will enable parents and students to better understand the actual “time line” of development in a dancer’s training and that there is nothing unusual about the gradual advancement from level to level.