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Dec 16, 2010

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Ballet for Figure Skaters Survey Results

Note from Ice Mom: This guest post comes from ballet for figure skaters expert Annette Thomas. A few weeks ago, I asked readers to complete a survey about ballet in their area of the world. Here are Annettes responses to the survey results. You can download the complete survey results here: 2010 Ballet Survey Results. Annette will be available today if you have questions for her. Just ask them in the comments.

Questions 1 & 2: How much does a group ballet lesson cost in your area? How much does a private lesson cost?

I felt that $11-$15 per class was well within the normal range.  It is expected that lesson prices will vary somewhat by region.  What blew me away was the $10 for an hour private lesson!  Generally I think that the lessons should be within the typical range for the region and commensurate with the teaching experience and credentials of the instructor.  You want to know the quality of the instructor you are learning from and price can be an indicator of that quality.


One person indicated that their club provides all of the off-ice lessons at least once a week but that the club has a higher rate because of it.  This is more common in Europe as I have heard this before and I think it is an excellent idea.  This way the skaters can be in the same classes together learning from the same instructors who (hopefully!) gear their curricula to the needs of the figure skaters.  It also adds continuity for the skaters as they can go from off-ice to on-ice instruction without leaving the building. And it can potentially facilitate communication between the off-ice and on-ice instructors, which I believe is very important.
One of the biggest problems it taking ballet lessons at a dance school or studio is that they try to get you into the recitals (an extra fee for everything as one person wrote!) Skating is expensive enough without adding all of this extra stuff to it!

I am so glad that “Sk8rgirl’s” mom recognizes the quality of her daughter’s teacher and that she KNOWS she is getting a “steal”!  I don’t know who they are or where they live but one of my concerns is that as professionals we do not want our lessons to be “undervalued”.  For example if we live in an area where the rink we teach at charges the skaters $5 per lesson while the local ballet school charges $20.00 per lesson and the YMCA charges $5.00 per lesson…what will the skaters, coaches and parents think of the quality of the lesson/teacher at the rink?  I have been in this situation and fewer and fewer people seem to know how to recognize a good ballet instructor…in fact recently I was told “anyone can teach ballet”!
ballet survey question 3Question 3: How long is a typical ballet lesson?
This one was quite revealing!  The time allotment for a “typical” ballet lesson is not up for speculation…it *is* 1 ½ hours long, except for the beginning year which is 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes long. This is the main difference between a “class” going through the motions/choreography, and a true “lesson” (please see my Facebook Page Discussion” What a Ballet Lesson Entails”.  A true ballet lesson is a progressive study with a curriculum, syllabus and a written daily lesson plan which is designed to condition the entire body at each lesson in very specific ways…this just can’t be done in 45 minutes!  I have to beg to even get 1 hour and 15 minutes, plus, I teach Character Dance in almost every lesson as well so even I am “skimping” a little in order to add that little extra style!

ballet survey question 4Question 4: Where do Figure Skaters Take Ballet Lessons?

I was sorry to hear from one person that their rink was charging more for ballet than the local ballet studio…I do hope that she/he was a better teacher!  Unfortunately many rinks do not have a real ballet room.  This is understandable as a ballet room needs wall to wall mirrors, barres set at the correct height and a sprung wood (or other material which has the same qualities) floor.   This is very expensive to provide for just *one* off-ice discipline so typically a rink will go with an all purpose off-ice room which may or may not fit the bill for ballet specifically.  I believe that this may indicate that ballet is looked upon as an “extra” which is not as important as, let’s say strength training.  Little do they know how much strength training there is to real ballet!

As mentioned earlier taking ballet at a studio or dance school can distract a skater from their real purpose…training to be a better skater; but if it  is all you have in your area go for it!  Just try to get the best teacher you can (and maybe she/he will even go in half with you on my Lesson Book!)  Ballet teachers of figure skaters really should know how edges, velocity, and spin and jump direction affect movement.

Question 5:
 Does the ballet studio offer ballet for figure skaters?

I recently came across a studio claiming to have a ballet for figure skaters program as a marketing scheme when in fact the teacher knew nothing about teaching figure skaters ballet so ask questions, watch a class…make sure!

Question 6:
 Is ballet offered year round?

This can be a problem at seasonal rinks because if there is a ballet program which is only seasonal the skaters will either have to go elsewhere or stop for the duration, either of which can be detrimental.  Of course… short breaks are good as everybody (even kids!) need some down time!

Fundamentals of Alignment and Classical Movement for Figure SkatersQuestion 8: Do you have any other comments about ballet classes for figure skaters?

  • I am always trying to get a ballet program going for the adults!  I love teaching adults and there are so many adult skaters out there I really don’t know why more isn’t done for them!
  • The idea of a “Warm-up Class” really intrigues me!  This would be superb as so many people think that a warm-up is a stretch!
  • Thank you to whoever said they were a “big fan” of my book!!  I truly appreciate the positive feed back!
  • To the person who wrote about gymnastics producing earlier, similar results:  Gymnastics forces the body (as does figure skating because they are both sports), whereas correctly taught ballet will do the same thing concerning flexibility and control safely and still in a timely manner.  Training for one sport with another sport is not (IMO) a safe practice.  Most skaters will not go to the Olympics and there will be a day when physical health and quality of life will be much more important.

Do you have a question for Annette about ballet for figure skaters? Do you have a comment about the survey results (2010 Ballet Survey Results)? Please share in the comments.

Thank you, Annette Thomas, for sharing your knowledge with us. If youre an expert in something figure-skating related and would like to write a guest post, please let me know! If you have a question for Ice Mom or the Advisory Board, Id love to hear from you, too. Do you have a suggestion for a blog post youd like to read? Awesome! Send me an e-mail:

Annette T. Thomas is a ballet instructor and author of  Fundamentals of Alignment and Classical Movement for Figure Skaters ( book review). Her new book, Lessons in Classical Ballet for the Figure Skater, provides everything the professional ballet instructor needs in order to offer the highest quality classical ballet training expressly designed for figure skaters. Lessons in Classical Ballet for the Figure Skater contains 20 full-length one-and-a-half  hour lessons from the beginning through the advanced levels including: body awareness and alignment floor exercises, warm-up, stretching and suggestions on teaching Style and Character Dance. Four “Ballet on Ice” lessons are also included for each of the Beginning and Intermediate levels, which reinforce what has been learned during their regular ballet lessons. A graded syllabus is provided for each level with evaluation questions and test suggestions. Also included is an invaluable section on figure skating jumps, spins, footwork and edges in order to equip the ballet instructor with the technical information needed to teach skaters as effectively and relevantly as possible. A section on “How to begin and maintain a Ballet for Figure Skaters program” is given in the index along with questions and ideas to use as a springboard for discussion between board members, coaches and the ballet instructor. Sold in over 15 countries around the world, Annette’s first book Fundamentals of Alignment and Classical Movement for Figure Skaters along with her new book Lessons in Classical Ballet for the Figure Skater make available all the tools needed to develop and maintain a quality Ballet for Figure Skaters program at your rink, on any continent, around the globe. For more information about Annette Thomas and her books, visit her site Annette Thomas and Ballet for Figure Skaters is a vendor partner with

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