Updated: Dec 14, 2022
Despite the challenges and hurdles performing arts faces in our country, it’s quite endearing to see the willingness of parents to build an arts-loving environment around their children. Today, more and more children are taking up dance classes, especially ballet, because of increased awareness among parents about starting early dancing for their kids.
Ballet training begins at the tender age of 5 years, when children are still in their pre-school and it takes a considerable amount of time for children to develop interest in ballet. But as they start absorbing the essence of it, they are also pulled into academics. Many young dancers, who start their training in pre-school, later face difficulty in juggling between their school, exams and other activities alongside dance. It’s quite plausible that many parents and children get caught up in a situation where they consider quitting dance training to switch their focus exclusively on studies. As a dance teacher, I have seen many students taking a break for an entire year to focus on their studies, especially when they are in their 9th and 10th grade. While some of them resume training after their exams, others quit dancing entirely due to several additional reasons.
No matter how challenging juggling between dance and studies may seem, quitting dancing is definitely an extreme step that is difficult to reverse if the child has been taking ballet classes regularly for a long period of time. Here’s why-
Taking long breaks is equivalent to restarting - Ballet isn’t just about elegance. Building strength and flexibility is a significant part of ballet training which children go through, right from day one. Taking a long break from ballet means that they have to work harder to restore the strength and flexibility level that they had achieved. Many children may even have to restart from level one after taking a long break.
Loss of zest- Once children begin their training to give ballet exams, they become more and more committed and driven to perform better. Quitting dancing entirely may result in loss of that zest to become better. Some students may even feel demotivated when they have to restart.
Withdrawing from dance can be challenging- In addition to dancing, ballet is also a form of discipline. It teaches a way of living to children and imparts significant values and benefits each day. Students are able to focus better on studies after dancing. A ballet class can serve as the best form of stress release and meditation that children need amid the mounting pressure of excelling in studies. Withdrawing from dance all of a sudden can affect children’s focus and stability, which also reflects on their academic front.
The good news is that there are alternative ways that can help parents and children to find the right balance between studies and dance. Here are some that you can try before considering quitting dance or taking that long break.
Speak to your child’s teacher- It is essential for you to speak to your child’s ballet teacher before taking any decision. Teachers do understand how important academics and studies are for parents and children. They will guide you in the right way and help you strike a balance between studies and dance. If you are going to miss a lot of classes during your exams, they can help you with compensation sessions or even personal lessons, to cope with what you miss during your regular sessions.
Manage your time well – Planning a strict schedule, and more importantly sticking to it, will help you clearly demarcate between your study time and recreation time. Develop your schedule in such a manner that you complete the tasks and lessons for the day but also have sufficient time left for your hobbies. Between school, coaching classes, exams and other activities, managing time effectively can get overwhelming. The key is not to stress about it too much. Once you have spoken to your dance teacher, make a monthly time-table for your children. Note which days you are accommodating dance, and try to keep their academic coaching classes on other days. Preferably, try and squeeze in some rest time on days when they have ballet class in their schedule.
Do not enrol in too many activities - In the unrealistic quest to become multi-talented, students often tend to get into many activities which ultimately takes them nowhere. Indulging in far too many activities will not only disrupt your academic schedule, but also not help you zero in on a single extra curricular activity which you can pursue to perfection. Just have one or at the most two extracurricular activities and solely focus on them while balancing your studies alongisde.
Reduce the hours of training- To focus on studies, children can reduce the number of hours they train in the week, instead of stopping entirely. Even though their day may be occupied with school, it’s worth remembering that a ballet class is an hour or maximum hour and half long. So, it can serve as a break that they deserve after studying all day long.
Written by: Shraddha Rupavate