Q: What if my studio doesn't have enough enrollment for all the levels in the curriculum?
A: No problem! The Geeky Ballerina curriculum is designed to be a tool to help you, not one more thing for you to worry about. We get this question a lot from people who are considering our Beginning Division, where we have Pre-ballet A & B as well as Ballet Foundations A, B, and C. That's 5 levels for the "babies" and sometimes that feels like a lot!
So let's talk about the Beginning Division in particular first, and then I'll talk about the other divisions. Our curriculum prioritizes healthy, age-appropriate ballet instruction. I talk more about that in this post, if you're interested. Our philosophy is that a child can't have fun or learn if the classroom demand is beyond what they can reasonably do! Because the coordination, strength, social, and attention skills of young children span such a large range, our curriculum has separated the groups into 3- & 4-year-olds, 4- & 5-year-olds (the Pre-ballet classes), and 5- & 6-year-olds, 6-year-olds, and 7-year-olds (the Ballet Foundations classes).
I'm sure you noticed that 4-, 5-, and 6-year-olds are listed twice. The intent behind creating two places for these age groups that you, the teacher who is placing them, feel encouraged to find the best fit for each child. Some kids are "young" for their age and do better with more emphasis creative movement for longer, while others are "old souls" who are ready for more structure and discipline a little earlier. Birth dates are less important than placing the child in the level where they will experience the most joyful growth.
A note about Foundations C: (and I go over this in the actual curriculum as well) Foundations C is not a necessary level for every studio. For ballet schools, Foundations C is a great option for kids who don't have the social/emotional skillset for the Elementary Division but are ready for more challenging physical movement. For recreational studios, there often aren't enough students who would benefit from Foundations C to fill a class. When that happens, the teacher and parent consider whether Level 1 in the Elementary Division is the right choice or if a repeat of Foundations B is a better fit.
That said, Foundations C is an excellent resource for competition studios! This is the class for all your brand new team minis--the ones who loved your combo classes so much that they just had to be on your team. They are so excited to be dancing more but they very often didn't quite realize the jump in expectations that comes along with team participation. If we put these new minis into Level 1, the discipline expectation will drown them and ballet will become the class that they dread. That first impression is almost impossible to overcome. Foundations C introduces the vocabulary and technique that you need them to know in order to compete well, but the class is structured so that they gain those skills and build their focus/discipline muscles in a gentler way. When your dancers' first experience in ballet is fun, those attendance problems that pop up a few years later seem to magically disappear.
The Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced Divisions are also easy to combine levels if that's the best fit for your studio. Each of these levels has a suggested age minimum, but no upper limit. Placements are made based on a dancer's ability to meet the minimum requirements for a level. For example, the minimum requirements to achieve by the end of Level 5 are:
turnout held stable in both hips throughout movement
strength to repeat all barre exercises en rise with proper ankle alignment
all extensions above 90º
If you needed to combine your Level 5 with another level, creating a Level 4/5 would be a good fit if your 5s were struggling with their turnout strength because so much of Level 4 focuses on refining stability and mastering double pirouettes. On the other hand, if your 5s were already pretty stable in their turnout and ankle alignment and you wanted to push them more along the lines of refining their transitions, creating a Level 5/6 would make more sense. The requirements to advance, key principle, and key vocabulary provided in the curriculum give you the information you need to confidently create your schedule for the season.
And if your studio is looking to start an adult beginning ballet program, Level 2 in the Elementary Division is where we suggest you start. This is for brand-new, I-always-wanted-to-take-ballet adults and teens. Adults who loved ballet as children and are returning would be better served by Level 3 or 4--depending on how accomplished their skills were when they last danced and how long they've been away.
No matter how you structure your schedule, our carefully progressed curriculum will help your students succeed!