Creative Movement

Is My Dancer Behind, or Ahead? - Miss Haley's Skills Checklist by Levels to age 12

11:10 AM

There are many curriculums out there, but there doesn't seem to be one "checklist" or "standard" that unites them all together. Should your 8-year-old be learning pirouettes? When should a child go to the barre? What should you expect from a 12-year-old who is just starting pointe?

I've decided to make my personal level expectation checklists available, in hopes that maybe different dance teachers at different studios can start unifying their curriculum a bit!

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It's important for me to be clear on this - this is my curriculum, not RAD or Vaganova or whatever. This is what I expect for my students, in the demographic I have learned to teach. Is your 6-year-old doing level 4 work? Okay, great for them. But make sure they can actually do the work correctly, not just doing the steps. They need to understand the concepts and have the strength and flexibility and muscle memory to back up the technique mentioned. So don't teach a 9 year old who is Level 1 how to do a pirouette until they can do all the other material leading up to the pirouette.

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Why do I stop at level 4? Mostly, because that's all I have had time and the means to refine. Most of my students trickle off by that level, so after that, I work on a case-by-case basis (my students who are more advanced than this will work with me one-on-one or in small class settings). But also because after that level and age group, I cater my classes to my student's personal goals, skills, and limitations.

Note for this checklist - If a student is a beginner, they should be placed in level 1, regardless of age, and moved up as they complete the skills mentioned below. I've put the ages I consider appropriate in parentheses, but the levels should be followed first.

Pre-ballet 1 (ages 2-3)

Basic Skills and concepts

  • Standing in line
  • Taking turns
  • Matching the teacher
  • Remembering their spot
  • Recognizing themselves in the mirror
  • Bending down low vs standing up and reaching high
  • Jump up and down on two feet
  • Hop up and down on one foot
  • Skips
  • Gallops
  • Run and jump over something
  • Basic stretches
  • Tippie-toe bourrees in parrallel 
  • Plie
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Pre-ballet 2 (ages 4-5)

Basic skills and concepts
  • Dancing while looking in the mirror; moving side to side, forwards and backwards while looking in the mirror
  • Recalling basic choreography with verbal but not visual assistance, unless hearing disabled (for example: "your turn to do skips!" and student is able to do skips without a reminder of what a skip is)
  • Listening to the music (mimicking quiet music with soft movements, and loud busy music with bigger and faster movements)
  • Rotate the legs open to turn-out ("Pizza Feet")
  • First and Second position
  • Saute in first and second
  • Echappe saute (I say "Echappe Escape!")
  • Plie in First and Second (I say "Diamond" and "Houses")
  • Releve  (I say "Elevator Up")
  • Tendu (I say "Stretch-Tendu")
  • Temps-lie prep (Rocking between the legs, I say "Swirling ocean waters")
  • Chasse into the ground to the side (I say "Ice-skate chasse" or "one foot one slide")
  • Skips on both feet
  • Gallops on both feet going sideways 
  • Leap over something on the ground
  • pas de chat parallel (can introduce side to side depending on students)

Download the rest here, totally free! I also have a grading rubric there as well. This page is all exclusive content for subscribers only!! Subscribe to my email list, and you'll get the password for the page!

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