• Jeanne Marie

Finding the best ballet studio for your pre-professional student

Special Thanks to Asher Fulero and Youtube Free Audio Library for providing music titled Web Weaver's Dance.

Gabrielle Epifano during a Zoom Interview in her home on October 16, 2020

According to an article published by the Child Development Institute, a site dedicated to helping parents find information about best enabling children to develop positive, healthy lives, ballet can have extensive benefits for a child's well-rounded development. According to the article, those benefits include an art appreciation, learning to be disciplined and respectful, developing healthy physical exercise and co-ordination, and becoming confident in themselves. However, once a child starts taking ballet classes and develops a serious interest in the form, parents can begin to struggle with more extensive questions and concerns regarding if and where to send their children for positive, pre-professional training.

A primary concern and general stigma in the dance community is that professional ballet training can do more harm than good to a child's mental health and confidence.

According to a clinical trial performed in Norway and available by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, professional ballet dancers are at a higher risk for developing eating disorders, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

A qualification perpetuated by ballet professionals themselves is the requirement for an ultra-thin bodily aesthetic. A tradition potentially affecting the outcome of how many professional dancers develop an eating disorder.

If dance studios employed teachers who have certified educational experience in child physical, mental, and developmental health, could communities help prevent this unhealthy tradition from continuing?

Can standards then begin to change, and these unsavory outcomes be prevented?

One-way to stimulate this shift is by encouraging parents to vet their dance studios as much as they would other educational institutions.

Gabrielle Epifano, a teacher at the Marat Daukayev School of Ballet, suggests exploring teacher resumes and observing the overall environment when evaluating a studio and its' staff.

Gabrielle Epifano laughing during a Zoom Interview in her home on October 16, 2020

Another concern parents may face in the current public climate is determining how to get students into pre-professional studio classes while the Coronavirus prevents public gatherings and determining if remote learning is a worthwhile alternative to in-person classes.

A paper titled Developmentally Appropriate Digital Environments for Young Children discusses digital environments' ability to "impose" themselves on children. Do remote ballet classes add too much notification-infused screen time?

Epifano, however, cites the dedication and commitment of her students as a positive outcome of remote environments. She remarks how her students have succeeded in new, creative ways a studio environment may not have induced previously.

Finding the right ballet studio fit for a child can be confusing and difficult for parents to grapple with. Still, if parents are given the tools to be able to evaluate their local studios more effectively and choose one with a healthy, educational environment, it can likely lead to positive emotional and physical results in children as well as future ballet communities.

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