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Hey, that's my spot!

Kate B

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On the mums and dads forum they are talking about whether it is right to have a particular 'spot' at the barre or in the centre, and how this is decided. It seems from this that there is competition to get to the front.


At my class what infuriates me is that NO ONE wants to stand at the front! I don't care if I end up in the front, but I would prefer it if the more advanced people went at the front. I think it would be better if they did because they could help by leading. I always make some mistakes when I am in front, and on the occasions when more advanced people stand in the front I learn from them.


Weird, huh? It's happened this way at a couple of places I have been to. I like the people, but I don't understand why they think the front is a bad place to be when they are very good dancers. Our teacher tries to get people to the front by saying things like, 'there's nothing so selfish as modesty,' but even this just gets the beginners to the front and I feel that the more experienced people are just setting a bad example by not leading.


Grrr, it's just a bugbear of mine. Also when people take my 'spot' on the barre or squash up because they don't want to use one of the free standing barres in the middle of the room. Boo to them. :(:shrug:


Just wondered how it happens at your places?

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Guest beckster

My classes are small, less than 10 people, and people tend to sign up for a whole term. This means the teacher gets to know us fairly well. Generally the "veterans" go to the ends of the barre or the front of the centre. There is never a problem with space! Generally we look after new people and offer to swap if they end up at the end of the barre. In the centre, the teacher will sometimes tell us who should be in which line, but the lines do swap over during class so no-one will be at the front for the whole thing. I quite like going at the front as it means I can't cheat and copy other people, but I don't like being first to go across the floor for some reason!

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mostly, i end up in front. this is because of the syllabus classes and that i remember every exercise. it already started when i was eight......at the barre, in centre and on diagonal....i was always 'pushed' to the front and had to do things first on diagonal. one day, my teacher (at my old school) got mad at me, because i was always first and in front...... :hyper: and i never ran into that spot, the others kind of made me stand first in line!!! and also with the graded exams, i was always pink (first in line.....colors go pink-blue-white-yellow).


since my balletschool cut down on classes (due to a decreasing amount of students :thumbsup: ), my own class is taken of the schedule. now, i end up doing classes of a lower level (not that i mind, i can work on my technique then). i always try to get somewhere in the middle, because i'm not planning for an exam (as i already took them) and the others will keep watching me instead of thinking themselves.


for me, as being always pushed to the front (or even back at the barre for example), i had some hard times doing my vocational graded exams. the numbers go by height and you never know where you end up in line until the examinations day. i had several exams that i was number 2 or 3 and i really feel locked up in between 2 persons and don't feel as free to move as when i'm in front or back....but this isn't really ontopic, i guess..........that's what you get after a hard day of work :bouncing: !!



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I generally go toward the front couple of lines in center, mainly because I'm short, near-sighted and tend to space out :bouncing: if I stand too far back. I do have certain spots on the barre that I favor and get slightly disoriented if someone else beats me to them.


My real problem, though, is when I drop in on a class somewhere other than my usual school. I like to let the regulars head to "their" spots before I claim one, but then if it's a crowded class that means you have to squish in between people -- I'm with you on that, Kate, boo-hiss! -- or end up in some horrid corner. What to do? :hyper:

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Guest kristinene

What astonishes me is that because many people want to avoid the front, the front line ends up in the center of the room - and no one uses the space in the front half of the room! I generally jump up there to get some elbow room. For some reason I feel most comfortable standing on the left side of the room though, don't know why.

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it's not that i want to avoid the front, it's just that since my old teacher got 'mad' at me, i want to give others a chance to stand in front.



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I seem to be room or studio dependent. There are four rooms where I take class and I have my spot in each one of those rooms. Interestingly it isn’t the same spot in each room relative to the others in the class. In modern class I tend to be up front. I cannot tell you why.


In jazz class during warm ups I’m at the back, but for the center combination I tend to start at the back and drift toward the front, especially as I come to get the combination better.


In ballet, I’m a retard, so during center, I’m at the back. It is pointless being at the front of an adagio when you only have managed to remember the first 8-12 counts of the combination. Even if the teacher says change places, I stay where I am. A perk from being older.


You can use the mirror to see others in the class if you are in the front, but I take my glasses off during center and can barely see the mirror let alone the images in the mirror.


I don’t mind at all making little mistakes in the combination or in performing the combination. I do mind being in front when I am clueless about half of the combination.


Barre makes no never mind to me


In the classes I take, I notice that the younger people tend to go toward the front and we older folk prowl the back. There are many more younger folk than older folk, so rarely is there a problem.


Occasionally, there will be what I call an absolutely great class that has only 2-3 people in it and in that case front and back are the same.

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Okay, this is one of the reasons I disagree with people who contend that very young children don't get much out of creative dance classes -- that they're not really ballet, since the formal study doesn't start until age 7, etc., etc., and that anything before that age isn't really dance, anyway. I believe that very young children can astound with what they can learn and retain, and the study of ballet early on includes more than just dance itself. These are the years where children can get a head start in learning a number of related things, like how to space themselves in a class, how to line up for going across the floor, how to be aware of others dancing around them, how to enter the classroom and take their place if they are late that day, how to rotate positions with the start of each new exercise.


It unnerves me to see adults hurry into class late, run pell mell to the center of the barre, mid-exercise, and disturb students who are trying to focus on the exercise at hand, and expect everyone to move to accommodate them, while they are also still struggling with their hair, skirt, shoes, etc. Many teachers are afraid to teach ballet etiquette to adults for fear of offending them, but sadly, common sense doesn't take much precedence for some offenders. It is true that many dancers enjoy taking a particular place at barre and in center, but whenever they are late, they should wait quietly for the exercise to end, and then take their place at the end of the barre. If they arrive on time, and they are early in their training, there is absolutely nothing wrong with politely requesting of the teacher or other students to stand in between other students who have a better idea of what they're doing.


Students should also try to get a sense early on of how much room is needed at barre and center. There is nothing like having someone's nose hit your backside when they cambre forward because they didn't think about this ahead of time.


Speaking of standing at the barre, all students, no matter what their level, should be ready to start the exercise and should properly finish it. It is very distracting to do your opening port de bras and have someone adjacent to you try to start a conversation with you at that point. Or, when you are ending your exercise, dancing through the very last note, have the person in front of you finish abruptly and start shifting aimlessly.


When it is time for center work, many students get in the habit of urging others to go forward, assuming they will always have someone to watch. While it is fine for less advanced students to want to stand in back of others until they start feeling more secure, it is often the case that the same students do this for years on end, and never take responsibility for learning combinations, sometimes even using the preparation time for last minute chatter. Students who do this will never develop any kind of memory for exercises.


Another problem with always wanting to stand in back simply out of years of habit is that not all combinations should start at the front. All students should think about center work before the music begins and figure out where the combination is going to move. If I have concentrated on this ahead of time and place myself so that I have room to move backwards, it is very troubling to once again have other students motion with their hands for me to move forward so that can watch me, when I know that we are all going to end up in gridlock.


Also, it should be kept in mind that the more advanced students don't attend class for the primary reason of demonstrating for others. They want to advance further themselves, and need to be able to focus on their own work and advancement. Advanced students can be driven away from a studio just as easily as less advanced students can if their needs aren't being met.

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OK, here's what's REALLY annoying. You came early and laid claim to the perfect spot at the barre. Since the class isn't full and you wanted extra space (maybe you're extra smelly today), you chose the 1-person side of a barre with only 3 people on it. All goes will for plies. Then in the middle of tendues...


In comes the late student! WHILE you're doing tendues!


He/she turns your carefully selected 3-person barre into a 4-person barre. It's even worse if he/she has the common curtesy to stand RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU! That I cannot take. I'll gladly offer just about anyone the spot in front of me at the barre --- I'm pretty tall and dancing behind me can be like driving a Honda Civic behind an SUV. But I do not extend that courtesy to the late student.


The days you WISH you'd forgotten your deoderant...

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Coming into the studio during an exercise is almost unforgivable IMO. If you really can't hear the music outside the door and come in anyway, at least stand by the entrance until the combination ends. In the instance you describe Citibob, I think I would hold on to the end of the barre (if there really was nowhere else to stand) before I'd invade someone else's space like that.

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In reallllllllly crowded classes, I've even moved over to the piano, holding onto the edge. Not the most comfortable place to be, but works in a pinch.

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Funny Face, thanks for giving the advanced person's opinion - I understand you don't want to demonstrate all the time... I just thought more advanced people would have less problem with being watched.


Citibob, that happened to me last night at the barre. I got there early and did a lot of stretching. 2 minutes before class started three people crowded around me. It's a popular spot, but there was a barre at the side of the room with only one person on it, and two free standing barres in front of the mirrors in the centre. I went over to the side barre, and the girl who had set up her spot there said, 'I was beginning to wonder if I smelled or something!' :P Anyway, I gave up my spot (again) because other people are not polite enough to take the available spaces on the barre when there are clearly people already set up at particular spots on the barre. I don't mind but I just wonder where these people are coming from.


And, grrrrr I hate these people who come in late during an exercise and wedge themselves in somewhere and do plies and grand battements and leg swings when everyone else is in the middle of a tendu exercise. There are about 2 or 3 people who do it regularly in my class. I understand that some people are going to be late because of work commitments or something but they could actually wait until the exercise had finished and look to the teacher for guidance as to where to stand. :D:flowers:


I was at the front again in centre work too last night. I guess it's OK but I worry that people think I must be big headed and think I'm top dog and then show myself up because I get lots wrong and I'm not very good. I guess that's because in my earlier days that was how things were done. In my class now the men don't stand at the back, either.


I was taught etiquette by my teacher before I moved to London in an adult class. She even objected if we ever turned our backs to the barre or leant on it while watching a different group doing an exercise. No one objected - it makes the class more serious and a lot of the etiquette makes sense, anyway.


This is a big whine I know, but it really gets on my nerves and sometimes is so bad that it spoils what would be a good class. I think the problem is that the class is too big for people to break the 'etiquette codes' and some of the basics should be spelt out to them just to make things nicer.

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Kate B, you're exactly right. Things should be spelled out by the teacher. And a good teacher can do this in a way that doesn't humble or single out anyone (unless they're doing something so obnoxious as to warrant it).


And just for the record, to be fair, I should point out that many more advanced students are just as guilty of breaching ballet etiquette. A classic case is the advanced student who comes in and does her own barre while the teacher's barre is going on, or who adjusts and modifies the given barre so as to make it completely different from what is being done by the rest of the class. Now -- that doesn't mean that there isn't room for modification within a certain structure. If a student is having an off day, perhaps just coming off a cold, etc., and doesn't feel strong, it's not disturbing anyone if he/she does things on flat instead of releve, or does single frappes instead of doubles, etc., or maybe keeps her battements a little lower.


When I came to class during cancer treatment, my teacher came over to me and whispered, "Just small and elegant." What wonderful understanding on his part. During that time, I balanced instead of turned, did releves instead of jumps, etc., but all within the recognizable context of the given exercises. It was wonderful to be given that kind of understanding and 'absolution' -- that I was still more than welcome in class, and that my work was still considered good.


Another thing that disturbs teachers and students alike is the student who stretches like a maniac in between exercises while the teacher is demonstrating -- as if her/his body is going to suddenly freeze up on them if they don't keep contorting and twisting it around. They'd be better off just coming a little early to warm up properly and keeping warmers on throughout barre.


Another thing that teachers don't often tell students, but it's a little tip is to turn towards the barre after the exercise for the other side (instead of wander halfway into the center of the studio, away from the barre).


Also, if an exercise is done on the first side, and the music clearly stops, then the students should finish and hold that position before calmly turning to the other side and waiting for the music to begin on the other side. It just looks silly for students to whip themselves around to the other side when the music stops and the teacher made it clear during demonstration that the exercise should end with a held position. It shows that the students aren't being present, conscious, focused, etc.


The thing is that these are all things that novices are just as capable of complying with as are advanced students, and they will end up looking so much more advanced by doing this clean, calm, focused work.


And it's not that advanced students aren't comfortable standing in front during center. They just don't want to constantly be relied upon as the person with a memory for the combination. They are taking class for their own improvement, and want to concentrate on their own areas of strength and weakness, not just be the person everyone takes their cue from. This is why it's important for teachers to keep things varied by saying after each exercise, "Okay, switch lines." And when the teacher says that, the less advanced students need to know to really move up and fill in the space. That's why advanced students do end up in front more often than not -- because when it's time to switch lines, people don't do so, and the advanced students, knowing they need room to move, reluctantly take their place in front -- AGAIN -- because the first line didn't move up far enough.


It's so important, in general, whether at barre or center, for students to learn how to space themselves accordingly, and be aware that if they extend their leg, etc., they might kick someone. And when teachers see this kind of crowding happening, they should be vigilant about cautioning students, whether at the barre or center. Those are accidents and injuries waiting to happen.


Hope some of this helps.

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Aaaaaah, don't get me started on people who are routinely and rudely late. It happens in my area that everybody is late once in a while due to traffic or work or whatever, but there are some who arrive 10 minutes into class every time.


As for where I like to be: wherever I have enough space and can see. A lot of times this is the front corner for center work and a spot by the door for barre work. I consider the barre spots where one faces the mirror head-on the "painful but useful" spots--it's not always pleasant to have such an unsparing view of oneself, but it's a really good way to see and correct certain problems.


For diagonal work, I only insist on going at the back if I feel for whatever reason that there is a risk that I will become a road hazard.

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I have a few favourite places in each studio, and generally try to rotate between them. I like the moveable barres best - I really enjoy the feel of the wood, and they keep me much more honest about being over my leg.


In the center I started always going to the front line (even if I am tall) because nobody else wanted to be in front and I just got tired of getting crowded in the back. I've since come to like being in front and going first very much.


In front I can always see well, always have ample room to move, and can start the exercise while the teacher's instructions are still fresh on my mind. Also, in the front I cannot be distracted by watching others.



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