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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ballet diary experiences?

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I read from the teens board that some of them have been keeping ballet diaries where they record new movements, combinations, corrections, compliments and other such stuff.


I wondered wheter many people on this board have done this kind of thing. And if you have, what are your experiences? What kind of things you wrote? Has the diary been useful? Why or why not?


(I'm wondering if I should put starting a ballet diary on my list of things to try in the future.)



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I've told here before, too - I keep one. Actually, I keep it publicly in the Web as part of my public diary (you can find it here, and just follow the link "ballet" at the right side to see only ballet related stuff, if you're not interested in everything else :)).


When I get home after class I always write something about the class; usually how I felt and what corrections and compliments were given to me. I usually check the last few entries before going off to class; it helps me to remember the corrections, and I find it a tremendous help in getting them down.


When I started ballet I also used to write down combinations - then I still had a notebook diary, not a Web one - but I've given that up. I don't have the time, and I didn't find it very useful.

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Guest scuffite

I have been keeping one though of late I am not so consistent about writing it down. I did for last week's class as the emphasis was different (my teacher usually has a theme for each class based on muscle group and we concentrate on usage and strengthening that muscle for the whole of that class).


I usually write down personal corrections and any group correction which I think applies to me too. I write it after class when I go home or the next day. Meantime, my brains are trying to remember each and every point, which is good though.


I don't write down combinations as that changes every week! But if there is a particular combination which I am struggling with, I commit that to memory and jump around at home instead.


I don't review the diary every day or before every class. The last time I ran through it, I was pleased that the points are already in my mind and I am thinking of those points when doing my exercises.

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  • 2 years later...

I just wanted to bump this thread for more ideas. I do have a journal for my other dance activity, but I write down choreography, so I don't forget.


How would I write a journal for ballet? What would things that would be important to jot down? What are things to be aware of (technique and artistic)? :)

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I am keeping a journal, in it I put things such as


If I got to class in time to warm up properly

What we did at barre and centre - new combinations etc

Any corrections made

Compliments given

Any problems I thought I was having with my combinations (balance/too stiff etc)

How I felt I performed in class

If I enjoyed the class

Definitions of any new words and how the move is 'technically' executed


And thats about it really. I like the idea of a web log though. I might try that when my diary fills up.

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I did start keeping a diary, but stopped about 8 months later because I switched computers and my templates were left in the old one and I never got around to moving them. :) I have never been a diary-writing type, so keeping it required concious daily effort.


When I kept the diary I put in things like:

- How my body felt in general

- Which parts of the class went well/badly, and what I thought was the reason

- Corrections I got that day

- Compliments if I got any (usually I didn't)

- Problems I myself noticed in my dancing


"Tired today - no more salads for lunch?" and "Lifting a leg to sur le cou-de-pied derriere after quick battement jete derriere makes it challenging not to sickle - is my working leg turning in when I close the jete?" might have been pretty typical entries. (I wrote in Finnish, of course) I never wrote down new steps and class combinations, though, since I've always found them easy to remember.


I might re-start journaling one day if I had a spesific goal to reach, had spare time in my hands or if I felt I needed to be more analytical about my dancing. (Currently I'm at a phase where I feel spending my time doing it is more useful than thinking about it)



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When I first started my ballet diary I recorded thoughts on barre and on center. I wrote down the adagio combination, the petite allegro combinations and the grande allegro combination. I also wrote any correct I recieved and each correction the class recieved.


My ballet diary is now corrections, my mood at the beginning and end of class (it's amazing how often I go in grumpy and come out happy, and it's amazing how often I come out feeling like I did nothing right- I'll have to work on that as much as the steps). If there was an adagio or allegro combination that I particularly enjoyed, or really hard I record it too. The entries are much shorter.


I've never been good at keeping a diary.

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Actually, I hadn't thought about keeping a ballet diary before I got the idea from someone's post. :)


So now I've written something about every class since beginning of August. I usually write general feelings, what corrections I was given, what I thought went well and what needs to be practised or what steps are difficult etc.


I can't remember combinations when I get home (many of my classes are in the morning), so I just write down difficult parts, but I've noticed that I tend to mix combinations if we've done two different adagios or different petits allegros.

I don't usually go through my old notes, I seem to remember them after writing them down.

Instead I thought to do some kind of evaluation after a few months how this autumn-winter season has gone and what I should improve for spring season.

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Since the (old :)) start of this thread, I have migrated to a double-diary system. I keep correction notes by hand in my general notebook (the same that also has meeting notes from work, addresses I need to write down, recipes cut from magazines, and whatnot), and update the web thing about my general progress about once a week. I tend to migrate between not bothering and very diligent re: both of these, though... :)

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I keep one, or did. My first few weeks back to ballet were more of a struggle and I kept one closely so I'd know what to work on.


Lately, class has been coming easier to me and I've not written it down.


They are helpful though. :)

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I’ve been recording classes for quite a while and highly recommend the practice.


Before coming to dance, I had spent 30+ years in the athletic world participating in a sport that had a long history of recording training sessions. I came to dance with that as a habit, so it was quite natural for me.


As a beginner, I recorded my classes on a single page of a notebook I kept just for dance. I put a single vertical line down the page and on one side I recorded every single combination I could remember (which wasn’t many) and on the right side every technical correction I could remember as well as technical things that applied especially to me. I used these notes as a basis for the home practice I was doing at the time. I would do the combinations I had recorded, paying particular attention to the technical corrections I had on the right side of the page.


As I became more experienced, I found I could remember the combinations better and had heard the same corrections over and over. My notes evolved more to recording all the center combinations (Like everyone else at the time I was much better at the barre than in the center). I would write any technical things I wanted to remember in the margins. At about this time I was able to do pretty much a whole class on my own. In general, I used combinations I had had in classes, which was how I used the notes.


I’ve only recorded barre combinations that were especially complicated or combinations I thought I might like to do a year or so later. That might occur in one of 10-15 classes.


In the last two or so years, my memory has improved quite a lot and I have gotten a little lazy and taken time off from recording classes. I can almost always remember everything from a class without writing it down. Nevertheless I still use the records I have as a resource for home classes and practice. It is often very nice to revisit a combination you did two years ago.


Even if you don’t do anything like home practice, I think recording things from class is worthwhile. Just the act of writing it down improves both your memory and increases your sensitivity to what is done in class.

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My ballet diary is now corrections, my mood at the beginning and end of class (it's amazing how often I go in grumpy and come out happy, and it's amazing how often I come out feeling like I did nothing right- I'll have to work on that as much as the steps). If there was an adagio or allegro combination that I particularly enjoyed, or really hard I record it too.  The entries are much shorter.


I've never been good at keeping a diary.


As part of my study on emotional aspects of learnig ballet at dance conservatoire, students who participate in my study keep an 'Emotion Journal' where they write down anything that affected their ballet training; this can be range from anxietes to perform certain steps to body image and weight issues, basically anthing that relates in any form to the ballet training. Keeping a journal/diary can be used as a psychotherapeutic tool to improve training.

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Guest Minna Laine

I have occasionally, although not systematically, reported some feelings, corrections and compliments on my weblog (which is, unfortunately, only in Finnish; http://meira76.blogspot.com/ is the address for those interested in weird languages ;)).


Apart from that, I recently started to write also some corrections and other stuff to a small notebook. My plan is to be able to read the prevous corrections before class and also to be able to read old stuff in retrospect and to be able to realize that there has indeed been some progress, although I sometimes feel that there really isn't any... :D But since I have just started this, I don't know if this will be very helpful or if I will soon forget to write corrections or lose the whole notebook, being not very systematic person :)


I never write down combinations, since I have perhaps worst coreographic memory in the world :blushing: I usually forget the combination immediately when the teacher starts to show next one...

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I tried that over the summer. It only really made sense to do it for my more advanced classes. I would try to remember the combinations and then try to do them at home and that really helped. Other than that though it was kind of a waste of time...for me at least. The cool thing was that my boyfriend thought it was some sort of diary and looked through it and then asked me where I learned to speak french! Then I realized that it was 30 pages of ballet french and I was really writing in another language unknown to people outside the ballet world. That was kinda fun. :D

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