Ballerinas and dancers train for many years to master their craft. But how many ballet classes or lessons should your child be taking to become a professional dancer or ballerina? Although just a guide, the following tables give you some specific numbers, hours and class types that you can use to help you work out what is best for your child!
Keep reading till the end to find out what training some of the professionals did!
How Many Dance Classes Should My Child Be Doing If They Want To Pursue a Professional Career in Ballet or Modern Dance?
The following is a guide developed by investigating how many lessons most dance schools offer today, what experts in the field suggest and from experience. It is not a prescription for success and every professional ballet dancers journey will look different.
|AGE||CLASS TYPE||AMOUNT||LESSON |
|3 – 8||Ballet||0-2||0.5-1hr||0.5-2hrs|
|9||Ballet||2||1 hr||Character and modern dance.||2-4hrs|
|10||Ballet||3||1-1.5hrs||Character and modern dance.||3-7hrs|
|11||Ballet||4||1.5hrs||Character and modern dance.||6-10hrs|
|12||Ballet||4||1.5hrs||variation, repertoire, character dance, pas de deux, modern and pilatesor floor barre.||7.5-15hrs|
|15-17||Ballet & Pointe||6||2hrs||As Above||20hrs+|
|18+||Ballet & Pointe||6||2hrs||As Above||25+|
- 3 to 8 Year Olds
Zero to two lessons per week. A bit contentious saying none, but with the right training a child can learn ballet at a later age. Others will state that the earlier a dancer begins their training the better. Read our article about lessons for five-year-olds to help you decide what is best.
- 9 Year Olds
Two ballet technique lessons per week, averaging an hour each. Your child might also want to explore modern dance classes or character dance if they haven’t done so already to complement their ballet training.
- 10 Year Olds
Three ballet lessons per week averaging 1 -1.5hrs each. Additional lessons in modern or character dance can be taken or your school might provide classes in pilates, repertoire or variations at this age as well.
- 11 Year Olds
Four ballet lessons a week averaging about 1.5hrs each. Your child at this age should definitely be exploring lessons that complement their ballet training if they are serious about dancing professionally to help gradually increase their training hours which jump significantly up as they mature.
- 12 Year Olds
Four ballet lessons a week averaging about 1.5hrs each. One or two, 30-45min Pointe work classes are generally introduced around this age on top of the four current lessons being taken. Your child might also start taking lessons in variations, repertoire, character dance, pas de deux, modern and pilates or floor barre to complement their training.
- 13-14 Year Olds
During this period ballet classes should increase from four to five or six a week. Pointe work should also gradually increase to three or four lessons a week. Your child should also be learning variations, repertoire, character dance, pas de deux, modern and pilates or floor barre to complement their training.
- 15-17 Year Olds
Students should be aiming to be taking around six ballet classes a week of two or more hour duration that includes at least 30mins of pointe work. At this age, if your child wants to pursue a professional career in dance they would be increasing their training load to more than 20 hours a week. This is in order to develop the stamina, strength, and discipline needed to dance long 8 – 10 hour days as a professional dancer.
Training should try to mimic that as much as possible of a professional dancer.
How Many Dance Classes Should My Child Be Doing If They Want To Pursue a Professional Career in Dance?
If your child is wanting to pursue a career in dance such as in any of the jobs in our Ultimate Dance Career Pathway List they will still need a strong foundation in classical ballet, but they will need an arsenal of other skills in the dance styles of jazz, musical theatre, hip hop, contemporary and acrobatics to name a few.
The following is a rough guide developed by investigating how many lessons most dance schools offer today, what experts in the field suggest and from experience. It is not a prescription for success and every professional dancer’s journey will look different.
|AGE||CLASS TYPE||AMOUNT||LESSON DURATION||TOTAL WEEKLY HRS OF ALL LESSONS|
|3 to 8||Ballet||0-2||0.5-1hr||0.5-2hrs|
|Jazz or Other||0-1||0.5-1hr|
|9||Ballet Technique||1-2||1 hr||3-4hrs|
|Jazz and/or Acro||1-2||1 hr|
|10 to 11||Ballet Technique||2-3||1hr||4-7hrs|
|Jazz and/or Acro||2||1hr|
|Jazz and/or Acro||3||1hr|
|Jazz and/or Acro||3||1.5hr|
|Jazz and/or Acro||4||1-1.5hrs|
|Jazz and/or Acro||5+||1-1.5hrs|
Other classes include but are not limited to hip hop, musical theatre/Broadway, character dance, pointe lessons, pilates, contemporary/lyrical/modern, funk/commercial, song & dance and more.
Other classes might also include competition, dance team, private lessons or rehearsals.
- 3 to 8 Year Olds
Zero to two lessons per week. A bit contentious saying none, but with the right training a child can learn to dance at a later age. Others will state that the earlier a dancer begins their training the better. Read our article about lessons for five-year-olds to help you decide what is best.
- 9 Year Olds
One or two ballet technique lessons per week, averaging an hour each. one to two jazz lessons might also be taken or one of those classes might be an acrodance class which will teach your child dance tricks that will add to their skill set and dance tool kit.
- 10 to 11 Year Olds
Two to three ballet lessons per week averaging an hour each. Two jazz lessons should also be taken or one of those classes might be an acrodance class. A class or two in another discipline might be started at this age as well such as tap dance or hip hop. They might be taking classes three times a week for a total of four to seven hours at this age.
- 12 Year Olds
Three ballet lessons a week averaging about an hour each. Your child might begin to learn to dance en pointe around this age on top of their ballet technique classes. Three jazz lessons could also be taken or one of those classes might be an acrodance class. Around three classes in other styles such as tap dance, contemporary, hip hop or musical theatre would add to your child’s skill set, or they may be taking extra lessons as part of a dance team or competition troupe.
- 13-14 Year Olds
At this age your child might be attending the same amount of lessons as previous, but those lessons might start to become longer for example being an hour and a half for a ballet or a jazz lesson.
- 15-17 Year Olds
Students should be aiming to be taking around four or five ballet classes a week that may or may not include pointe work depending on your child. At this age, if your child wants to pursue a professional career in dance they would be increasing their training load to twenty hours or more a week in as many different styles as possible. This is in order to develop the stamina, strength, and discipline needed to dance long 8 – 10 hour days as a professional dancer.
- 18+ Year Olds
Training should try to mimic that as much as possible of a professional dancer. Ballet or pilates should be done daily at a minimum on top of any auditions or professional jobs your dancer is able to secure or if more training is needed, a pre-professional or further education course might be worth looking into.
Complimentary classes alongside ballet and jazz should be taken by any dancer wanting a professional career, but the type of class taken can be very individual for example perhaps your child loves song & dance and musical theatre rather than taking hip hop classes. This will not disadvantage your child early on by focusing only on these areas, but for the best opportunity, as they get older and are able to take on more hours of training, lessons in as many different styles of dance are always beneficial.
Your child may also be doing more classes than we have recommended especially if they are at a competition orientated school and if they enjoy the classes and are thriving then do what you, your child and dance teacher feels is best. Just beware that doing too much too soon can lead to burn out and injury which can cut short the most promising of careers. Quality of training and the discipline of the dancer will always win out over quantity and poor effort during lessons taken.
A Pre-Professional or Full-Time Dance Training Course is Always Your Best Option if Your Child Is Serious About a Ballet or Dance Career.
Various pre-professional ballet courses such as those we write about in our article ‘The Cost of Ballet and Dance Training’ accept students for their first year of training at different ages but the average is from around the age of 12 or from around 7th grade or the first year of high school for many countries. A pre-professional ballet course can be fairly intense for a 12-year-old student as they are training in ballet either full or part-time five to six days a week for around 20 hours. Those hours generally consist of a variety of ballet technique classes as listed in the hours recommended above which generally increase bringing to around 25 or more hours of training a week by the age of 15-17.
Pre-Professional courses in dance are also available to students wanting to pursue a professional career in areas other than ballet. Many privately run schools that meet accreditation standards with their governing body are able to take students from as young as 14 provided the student continues their formal schooling through for example distance or online education, but many pre-professional institutions that provide training for professional dancers generally have an intake of students who have just graduated from high school and are looking for further education in dance. Universities and colleges also provide pre-professional training with the added benefit of the student receiving a degree at the end of their training.
If a pre-professional class is unavailable or your child was not accepted through audition, it is important to remember that quality and commitment will always win over quantity. If your dancer is doing a lot of hours but is not trying or is too tired, or the teacher is not giving your child the best training then quantity is not going to help your dancer make it as a ballerina.
How Many Lessons Did The Professionals Do?
How often should you practice dance?
To become the best dancer you can be, spending twenty minutes to an hour at home on top of the recommended hours, as stated above in the article, can benefit any dancer. At home dancers generally, practice steps they haven’t yet mastered in class or try to increase their flexibility or strength by practicing specific exercises for this. Our article ‘14 things you can do to help your child be a better dancer today‘ can help guide you on what you can do at home.