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Ballet Mom's Cheat Sheet

Updated on December 17, 2014

The Nutcracker

My nine-year-old daughter has taken ballet classes since she was four. For several years we've enjoyed the nearby professional ballet company's Christmastime production of the Nutcracker, and each year she's said, "I want to be in that Nutcracker, Mom." This year we decided to go for it, switched to the professional company's school and auditioned for the Nutcracker. Fortunately, my daughter's had excellent training at her old studio, and she won two roles: an angel and a little soldier.

Daughter began taking classes at the studio. Her level takes three classes a week, plus one rehearsal for angels and another for little soldiers. She went from one session a week at the old studio to five at the new one. She loves it and can't wait for the performances in December, so it's all good.

Over My Ballet Head

It quickly became obvious that ballet is taken very, very seriously at this school. I've been told that if my daughter decides to pursue ballet professionally I'll have to find a school that will let her take the afternoons off to dance, find an online program or homeschool her.

There was the thirteen page information packet with surprises like, oh yeah, she'll have to rehearse in costume every night during tech week (the week before performances start), even though they're school nights and we have a 40 minute drive.

It's a new world. But as I said, she loves it. I get the feeling we're going to spend a lot of time at the studio over the next few years, so I've decided to brush up on my ballet knowledge so I can take part in informed discussions. I've always loved ballet, so I'm anticipating my quest for ballet knowledge. I'm assembling my best webpage finds here for other new ballet moms.

Ballet Terminology

Recently a couple of other ballet moms were talking about how their daughters were preparing variations for the Grand Prix. I smiled and nodded, then ran to the computer as soon as I got home to find out what a variation was. It's a solo!

Here are a few guides to ballet terminology, so when your child comes home complaining, "We had to do our tendues in sur le cou-de-pied, Mom!" You'll know what the heck she's saying.

American Ballet Theatre's Ballet Dictionary

Ballet Terms

Famous Ballets

The world's most famous ballets often involve stories of love, loss, betrayal and redemption, all told through the medium of dance. Some of us find that things get lost in translation, so here are links to summaries of famous ballets to help us along.

The Ballet Bag

The Ballet: Ballets

Great Ballet Dancers

From Margot Fonteyn, who performed until she was 58 years old, to Mikhail Baryshnikov and his daring defection from the Soviet Union, the ballet world has known many stars. Learn the names to know at these websites.

Biography: Famous Ballet Dancers A to Z

Ballet Dancers


Everyone's heard of New York City Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. But what about Missouri Contemporary Ballet? Or Alabama's Montgomery Ballet? There are many, many smaller companies out there. Several of them operate ballet schools where your child will be taught by professional dancers, or run summer intensives where he or she can experience different styles of dance and teachers.

List of Dance Companies

Top Companies

There is much discussion about which companies are the best in the world, and in the United States. Most would place the companies listed below somewhere in the top ten. In no particular order...

Top United States Ballet Companies

New York City Ballet

American Ballet Theatre

San Francisco Ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet


Top Ballet Companies Worldwide



New York City Ballet

Paris Opera Ballet

Royal Ballet


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    • travelingmum profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thanks for the comments Marisa! She's also says she wants to be a science professor, so I think that's the better bet!

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 

      5 years ago from Sydney

      I love the concept of a cheat sheet! I'm sure your daughter did well in her performance - how exciting to be in the Nutcracker at that age!

      At nine, your daughter is just on the brink of being able to study ballet seriously (over-strenuous ballet technique before that age can lead to injuries later). Competition in ballet as a career is incredibly fierce, so bear in mind there's a good chance your daughter will never make it to the professional stage, no matter how talented she is. If she loves it and genuinely wants to make the commitment to professional training, she obviously deserves your support and encouragement, but try to resist becoming a pushy ballet mom (I'm sure you'll do the right thing!).


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