Ballet for 8-10 Year Olds

Parent Q&A

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  • Beginning Ballet class for 10 year old?

    (8 replies)

    My daughter has a very strong interest in taking ballet classes, having never taken them before.  She is almost 10 (4th grade) and I'm having difficulty finding a ballet school that has introductory ballet classes for "older" kids.  In many schools, this age is already considered pre-professional.  We live in Berkeley - does anyone have a suggestion of a local school (within 10 miles) that may be a good fit for my well-behaved, motivated daughter?  Thank you!

    Hi- check with Shawl Anderson. It’s a very friendly studio with a robust program for kids ages 3 through teen. They offer good ballet instruction in a warm manner. 

    I think our dance studio would be out of your 10 miles radius (Walnut Creek) but they offer private lessons and I'm sure other studios do too. It might be better for her to do private lessons to start while she learns some of the fundamentals and then she can transition to a class that is age-appropriate. Plus, she will likely learn a lot quicker in a private class environment.

    Additionally, our studio offers a free teen/adult intro to ballet drop in class. Not sure your daughter would be considered "teen", but might be worth a phone call.

    The Ballet School - 925-934-2133


    I highly recommend Fusion Dance Project in Hayward. Its worth the drive. Their introductory classes are open to a broad range of kids and your daughter would certainly not be the oldest. The instructors are welcoming and do an amazing job with the kids. The place really has a friendly and positive vibe. They have an annual recital in June each year, which you might want to attend with your daughter. I went to it last year while trying to make up my mind about where to send my daughter for dance and was blown away with the performance. My daughter is happily enrolled this year.

    My daughter started taking ballet at 10 or 11 at Van der Zwaan Dance Studio in north Berkeley (Shattuck and Cedar).  The classes indicate the age range, and although she's usually been among the oldest in her classes, there's always been at least one or two students her age.  She's made steady progress, and she's still taking classes there as a 14-year-old.

    Shawl Anderson on Alcatraz Ave x College Ave in Berkeley (on border of Oakland) My 10 year old daughter is taking ballet for the first time and loves it. 

    My daughter's ballet studio offers classes for beginning students of all ages and I'm sure your daughter would find it a welcoming environment. The Conservatory of Classical Ballet is in San Leandro, so not exactly local to you, but not too far either! They offer evening and weekend classes too.

    Van der zwann dance on Shattuck. We have a good friend who is taking beginning ballet at age 11 there and is very happy. I took my first ballet class around the same age and loved it. Good luck! 

    Have you contacted Berkeley Ballet Theater ( ? They don't have an introductory class specifically for older kids, but they will place your daughter in a suitable class. If she's interested and motivated she will eventually be able to catch up with her age peers.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


 Best ballet school for 8 year old boy?

March 2012

My son has been taking ballet for three years at Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. He has been lucky enough to participate in a boys-only class, but I realize not all ballet schools have these. We are moving to Berkeley and hoping to find a good ballet school for him in the East Bay. We'd prefer one with boys- only classes, but if there is a school with co-ed classes and a decent number of boys enrolled, that would be great as well. Any recommendations? Thanks! Dancer mom

Berkeley Ballet Theater ( The boys there attend coed classes most of the week, but they do have an additional weekly class just for them. There are several boys there now around your son's age, so I think he'd enjoy it. Edna

Dance class for 10 yr old that offers peer group?

Aug 2011

I am on the lookout for a GREAT dance class for our 10 year old girl but am really interested to find a class where the student makeup is pretty consistent and the teachers really pay attention that the group dynamic is supportive, etc. Goal would be to have a more communal experience rather than the typical drop in experience. Anyone have any thoughts or recommendations?

Berkeley City Ballet offers excellent ballet classes for elementary through high school students. They have a pre-professional program and community classes. Here is a direct link for the community classes: Deena

Ballet class for 10 yo girl, beginner

Feb 2011

I am looking for a ballet class for my 10 year old daughter. She has not taken ballet since she was 4 or 5 years old. I am hoping to find a class in the Berkeley area that is fun, and where she will learn the basics. ap 

Our family has had a great experience with ballet classes at Danspace in Rockridge. Our older daugter is 7 and has been attending classes for 4 years and our younger daughter is 4 and has been attending for 1 year. We find the studio to be supportive, nurturing, and a lot of fun for our daughters. All the teachers we've worked with have been excellent and most have been working there for many years. While we don't have experience with ballet classes at the 10 year old level, I encourage you to visit Danspace to see what they have to offer. dt

Ballet instruction for 9 year old girl

Oct 2009

We live in Albany and are interested in ballet instruction for our 9 year old daughter. We are interested in East Bay ballet programs, particularly Berkeley City Ballet on Dwight. Does anyone have any experience with this school? Albany Parent

My daughter has been going to Berkeley City Ballet since she was six-years-old and loves it. She is a senior at BHS, and has already been accepted to Butler University's ballet program, one of the very few college-level classical ballet programs in the country.

The biggest event for the studio is their annual Nutcracker performance, which is usually at the Zellarbach Play House. This year they are performing on 12/19 and 12/20 at Ohlone College due to scheduling mix up by Zellarbach. Students begin performing in the ballet as mice and move on to perform in the Act Two parts once they are introduced to pointe.

I've heard of other school hurrying to get girls into pointe shoes, but the director is adamant about making sure that students' feet are fully ready for the shoes to minimize the chance of injury to their feet. (Feet are very important!) Kids are are given instructions to do their own hair, sew their own shoes (elastic, ribbons, etc.), and do their own stage make-up. In short, the school teaches their ballerinas to be self-sufficient and responsible for themselves.

Like any organization BCB has had its share of internal issues, but the studio has provided a real learning place as well as a second ''home'' for my daughter. I would recommend Berkeley City Ballet highly to anyone considering taking up ballet. Yuko F.

My 12 year old daughter is in the intermediate ballet class at Berkeley City Ballet and loves it! They have a pre-professional track (which my daughter is not in), but added classes last year for kids who just enjoy dancing and want to take classes. Because these classes are relatively new, they aren't very full yet. It's a good program - you should check it out! Sara

I am writing as a parent and an ex-ballet dancer to tell you about how terrific Berkeley City Ballet is and how much this company means to my daughter and our family. I was one of the original dancers in BCB when is was formed more than 30 years ago and I danced in the first productions of their Nutcracker. When my 7 year-old daughter expressed interest in ballet, I took her there to take class. What immediately impressed me was the way Elizabeth Godfrey, the Artistic Director, both supported the kids but also let them know she had high expectations for them. I felt this was still a serious and healthy place for a child to develop the technique that could either lead to a professional career or a strong foundation in dance.

Now at 13 years old, my daughter has fallen in love with BCB and ballet. She is rehearsing now to perform in her 6th Nutcracker this December and is as committed as ever. She had the opportunity to perform as Clara a few years ago and the role transformed her. Not only did I see technical improvement, but emotional growth as well. And, this is true of all the girls who have the opportunity to perform each year in the Nutcracker. This is a unique opportunity to perform side by side with professionals in a high quality production. The sets and costumes are lovely and the dancers are well rehearsed. Dancing in a ballet of this caliber is life changing for all these young girls and teenagers. And much of this is due to the personal attention that Ms. Godfrey gives to their dancing and all the production details. After seeing the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker this year, I can actually say that BCB''s Act I was as good if not better.

What is particularly impressive about BCB is how the value of teamwork is instilled in these dancers. Ballet is a highly individualistic and competitive art form and yet productions are not successful unless the company members work together. The corps de ballet must look like one body, moving together, for the right effect. My daughter's fast costume change from Act 1 to Act 2 will only work if an experienced girl helps her get from one dress into another. Older girls are encouraged to help younger girls--allowing the group to reach its maximum potential.

For us, Berkeley City Ballet is now a family affair: my husband also performs each year in the Nutcracker as a party guest. I will also perform this year as Clara's mom. It is lovely that this company that played such an important role in my childhood is now so central in my family life.

BCB also offers classes for dancers who just want to do it recreationally. Watch any of the big dance shows--''So You Think You Can Dance'' or ''Dancing With the Stars'' and the Judges are always saying that ballet training is at the foundation of any good technique.

American culture is not always attentive to what it takes to support and nurture the arts. Companies like BCB keeps training these young dancers and produces high quality productions like the Nutcracker. But, unlike a large ballet school like San Francisco Ballet, this company accomplishes its goals in a much more supportive and healthy environment. Despite the hard work, the girls really enjoy their time there. BCB is an asset not only to the girls and families that participate in their program, but to the entire community. Amy

Berkeley area ballet school?

Oct 2009

I'm interested in signing up my child for ballet classes. Does anyone have recomendaitons for a ballet school in the Berkeley area? There are at least a couple - Berkeley City Ballet and Berkeley Ballet Theater - and I'm looking for the pros and cons of each. Thanks

I don't have any experience with Berkeley Ballet Theater, but I just posted a reply to another question about Berkeley City Ballet.

Berkeley City Ballet has been wonderful for my daughter who will be studying ballet in college. Not all students of the studio go on to study ballet in college, but all of them do great in school. I think it's partly a reflection of the high standards that the director sets for their students. The kids develop a wonderful sense of camaraderie and working together.

I highly recommend Berkeley City Ballet to anyone thinking of studying ballet, but a good way to get an idea about the school and even talk to some of the students is to attend the performance of the Nutcracker.

This year BCB will be performing The Nutcracker on 12/19 and 12/20 (both days at 1pm and 5pm) at Ohlone College. Yuko F.

My daughter is starting her third year at Berkeley Ballet Theater (she previously studied in San Diego). We have been very pleased with the quality of the instruction, and also with how each class is taught at an age-appropriate level. (The youngest children learn about how much fun dance can be, while the older students work very hard.) At the end of the year, a parent-teacher conference is scheduled to evaluate each student's progress.

The only drawback I can see to their program is a lack of flexibility for the casual dancer. While adults can take as many or as few classes as they like, the kids are locked into an increasingly time-consuming program. My ten-year-old takes three classes per week (5.5 hours total), and the time (and $$) committment will only increase as she advances. Edna

You didn't mention how old your child is, but either way would suggest observing same-age class at the schools you're interested in. My now teenager started at Danspace at age 7. Is now 14 and just finished a year at Berkeley Ballet Theater . Danspace is very developmentally appropriate and has a variety of movement classes. My child is not interested in pursuing ballet professionally but really liked the technique training she received at BBT. They are very different in approach and disciplines so I'd recommend you observe and age-appropriate class at each school you're interested in. Anon.

My fourth-grade daughter is at Berkeley City Ballet . I recommend their program very highly. The students, teachers, and parents are a very close-knit and supportive group. It's been wonderful for my daughter to have this group of friends outside of school. Ballet was my daughter's idea and I'm not very knowledgeable about it (although I'm learning), but it appears to me that the quality of instruction at BCB is very high. The older students go to prestigious summer and college programs, and I've certainly seen my daughter learn and improve over the three years she's been there. The performances, particularly the Nutcracker, are very professional and tremendously fun for the students, who get to perform multiple roles alongside professional dancers. I'm impressed with how the artistic director shapes the performances to ensure the students have challenging roles. You might consider checking the Nutcracker out to get a feel for the school. This year many of the lead roles, like the Sugar Plum Fairy, are being performed by students. It's at Ohlone College in Fremont,

One last thing -- the summer workshop at BCB is, for my kid, one of the best things that's ever happened. She went for the first time this year and had a total blast. In addition to dancing four or five hours a day with a variety of teachers in different styles, they studied some anatomy and learned to spell ballet terms.

I'm relatively new to BCB and I'm sure there are many parents who would be willing to speak with you, but feel free to contact me. Teresa

Best ballet company school

July 2008

My daughter has been with Contra Costa ballet for the past two years. We are thinking of switching to a closer school. We live in Oakland. I am not interested in small show type neighborhood schools. She really enjoys performing and is one of the front two in her class. Her dream is to play Clara in the Nutcracker. Another reason we are considering leaving is tunnel traffic this year her class is at 5:45. Her classes will also be increasing in frequency as she gets older. We really enjoy it there and I am wondering if Berkeley Ballet theater or Berkeley City ballet will measure up to the quality of instruction and performances we have had. Can anyone recommend either school or another school nearby? worth the drive?

Berkeley City Ballet has been a great place for my daughter for the past 7 years. She has developed discipline and grace and had fun along the way. She will be getting her first toe shoes this fall. The teachers have been top notch professionals. Those students who choose to work toward making dance their profession seem to have no trouble moving in that direction. The nutcracker each year is very well done. The kids learn great skill and discipline. I can't say enough great things about BCB (and I will admit I am a bit of a ballet snob when it comes to quality) Love Ballet

To the families looking for top notch Ballet programs - look no further than Berkeley Ballet Theater ! There are programs for 2 year olds through adults, from beginning to professional level. There are special workshops given in addition to regular classes given in Spring and Summer.

My daughter has been attending BBT for 10 years (since she was 4) and loves it, her program is now 5 days a week with an optional 6th day; one day of Modern and 4-5 of Ballet. BBT's Children's division graduates have been getting into some of the best dance college programs in the country including Julliard, SUNY Purchase, and Alvin Ailey/Fordham. The assistant director, Susan Weber, is a college counselor specializing in Dance and Theater majors. In the upper levels, the children's division students get to work with the founder, Sally Streets, who choreographs for Diablo Ballet, ODC and danced professionally with Oakland and NYCB. Her daughter, Kyra Nichols, just retired from NYCB.

The Children's division does two shows/year. Nutcracker has eight full performances, which generally sell out, also school shows and the Spring Show has four performances and school shows.

We Dance is a program for toddlers and a parent, Pre-Ballet is once a week for 4-7 year olds and has a show at the end of the year. Adult classes are given in Ballet Fundamentals, Beginning ballet, Beg-int ballet, Pointe, Pilates, and advanced ballet, which is attended by professionals, college students and advanced children's division alike. There is also a newly formed Men's ballet class.

The Adults also have their own show in the spring, optional of course, but well attended and inspiring. Clara