Why My Minis Are Amazing
Over the past few years the standards for young dancers have been increasing. Today it seems like there are so many amazing mini dancers on the competition scene. Minis who can do 10 pirouettes, minis who can lift their leg up to their ear, minis who can do leg hold turns, scorpion turns, and leap 5 feet off the ground. It feels like it’s not uncommon to see 7 to 9 year olds preforming a routine with the maturity and quality you’d expect from a senior. There are so many little kids out there that are amazing. But here’s the thing:
You don’t need to be amazing when you’re eight years old.
If you are, that’s great. But the reality is, the vast majority of minis dance because it’s fun. It’s extremely important for me to keep my classes fun and entertaining for my younger dancers. As a teacher it’s so easy to get caught up in this craze of pushing your dancers to dance beyond their years. You go on YouTube and search “mini solo” and you find videos of little kids dancing like they’re adults. And it’s so easy to start expecting that of your students, and it’s so easy for your students to start expecting that of themselves, when it’s the image of mini dancers you’re surrounded with. My minis have technique. My minis have technique, quality of movement, and repertoire that is appropriate for their age. My 7 to 9 year olds don’t dance like seniors, but they don’t need to, because they’re 7 to 9 year olds.
Over-training is very much something that exists. I could push my minis to train 10+ hours a week, to develop new skills rapidly, and to gain immense flexibility. However, I choose to make the most of the 1 hour a week I have with my minis, out of the 4.5 hours they train. I choose to train safely, spend at least half the class on technique, but still incorporate elements of play. Because the reality is, those amazing minis you see on YouTube train at least 10 hours a week, most train more. Even if this is safe training, I truly believe that 9 times out of 10, it will lead to burnout. Young dancers who train that many hours will become exhausted, they will be more susceptible to injury, and they will be taught discipline that is beyond their years. The 7 to 9 year olds you see doing the amazing solos on YouTube are also the 7 to 9 years olds you see taking classes with their knees taped and their ankles bandaged. Minis don’t need sport induced injuries. Minis need to train safely and reasonably.
That’s not to say there aren’t minis out there that are self-motivated, and choose to train extensively in such a manner. That’s not to say there aren’t minis that are willing to give up so much to perform amazing solos. But those kids are few and far between. My minis don’t do crazy tricks, countless turns, show off immense flexibility, or dance like seniors, but I still think they’re amazing. I think my minis are amazing because they dance like minis. They dance like minis, yet every class they still show me that they are attentive, passionate, and happy. They’ll dance like seniors when they’re seniors. But for now? They’ll come to class and have fun.