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what to expect in ballet class

Guest andalusia

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Guest andalusia

I started a ballet for beginners class in September. I have no experience dancing but I am a musician and some things we do seem a little odd.


First off, we never use classical music for the warmup and often for most of the rest of the class. I find doing tendus to pop music a little weird. The classical we do use is cheesy guitar and flute versions of the Pachebel Canon and so forth.


Also, the teacher doesn't seem to follow the beat during a lot of the exercises. We have the music on but we're following her at her tempo and basically ignoring the cd.


Is there a standard series of levels to go through in learning ballet? I thought we'd be following the RAD syllabus, just moving through faster than the little kids, but last week we were doing Grade 5 stuff. I can't see how we can be doing things right or in order if we're just skipping around but is this normal?


Which brings me to another question: is it typical to do different exercises every week? We never repeat the same sequences two weeks in a row and I can't remember any of them. I can't memorize them as she shows them to us but I think I could if we reviewed them the next week- but we always do something completely different. Is there some way to write them down or something?


The teacher is mainly a tap and jazz dancer which bothers me a little because I don't know if she knows what she's doing. The problem is, I paid the year's fees already. I just don't know right from wrong in ballet yet- so tell me, are these things normal?

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Hi, when I was looking for a teacher giving adult classes I also came across a teacher who uses modern type of music, it was not pop but also not classical. That put me a bit off of her classes because I prefer learning ballet the old fasioned way. The one teacher I got at the moment only uses more modern music at the en of our class when we do streatches but while doing ballet she uses clasical music.



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Normal: different exercises every week (some teachers vary them each week, some don't).


Not Normal: pop music (OK, OK, once one of my teachers did a whole barre to Mr Rogers songs, but that was a special occasion.)


Not Normal: not using the rhythm of the music


I think the problem is that this teacher hasn't been trained much in teaching ballet or possibly hasn't even had much ballet training of her own. But overall, from what you describe and my experiences, overall this class is Not Normal.


All just in my opinion...

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As to koshka, only varying excercises weekly is sounds familiar here. Everything else sounds, to be honest, simply horrible. Especially the lack of musicality. :angry:


Too bad you've already paid for the year. Could you try and get your money back on the basis that you are not given what you paid for? Your best argument might be that it doesn't sound to me that you're following RAD syllabus; you might be doing bits and pieces out of it, but definitely not following it. (Maybe someone more familiar with RAD could confirm me here; I've never even seen a syllabus class in anything, to be honest...)


(I'm just another student, here, so don't take me as an authority; this is just an opinion.)

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Just another one of my opinions. I think alot of teachers my not follow a sylabus strickly cause alot of people who start to dance as adults had previous dance experience as children and they just wnat to get into dancing again for a hoby or for fun and do not realy care about exams and all that stuf.



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Well, It sounds as you certainly are doubtful about how reliable this teacher is. And to me, the rule of thumb is that you have to find a teacher that you are content with. If it is possibe, sign up for another class at another school/studio. You will most probably not take any harm since you are an absolute beginner. I remember how long it took me to learn different thins (I didn't have any previous dance/gymnastics experience either) so 6 months once a week shouldn't be too bad. But the best would be to get a refund.


I think that not repeating the excersices for beginners is the worst part of the class. And skipping to grade 5 stuff sounds like a huge leap to me. But then I haven't, just like Jaana, seen the syllabus.

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I have no experience dancing but I am a musician and some things we do seem a little odd.

I feel so dumb today. I thought you meant that things MUSICIANS do seem a little odd. :blushing: Time for a coffee break.


Have you had the opportunity to observe one of the teen classes at the school? Do they look proficient? You could be at a school which A. Doesn't take ballet seriously or B. Doesn't take adult beginners seriously. In either case, from what you've stated, I think you should try shopping around. Ballet should only be taught by a qualified ballet teacher. Would you go to a Math tutor for a piano lesson? Or tap dance to Chopin?


I appreciate creative approaches to teaching ballet, but pop music for barre work is simply unacceptable. This is your introduction to classical ballet. Your teacher should love, and have a desire to preserve(through teaching), this classical tradition. Sounds like the class is not taken seriously.


Yes, it's normal for the combinations to change weekly. The idea isn't to learn "routines", the idea is to aquire ballet technique. As a beginner, you should be learning to do really simple steps corrrectly. Once they're broken down and explained, you begin to learn how they are linked together, and how to apply plie, tendu, and ronde de jambe to more complicated "step" in the center, like glissade or assemble. This process is done very slowly and methodically.I've never seen a beginner class which does very complicated combinations. Sometimes it's fun to just "dance", but that shouldn't be done too often as a beginner. Sounds weird to say that, but it's true.


I also think it's OK to not follow a strict syllabus. That said, I think that you should ask for your money back if you're not enjoying the class and not learning proper ballet technique from a qualified teacher. You should get the classical lessons that you wanted, and paid your hard-earned cash for. Good luck :angry:

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  • Administrators

Andalusia, first of all, welcome to Ballet Alert! Online :angry: We are glad that you found us and I hope we can be helpful to you. It does sound like you need, and are already getting, some help here!


The others are right, the things you describe are unacceptable. You must not begin ballet with a totally inept teacher, as you will not really learn anything that will be helpful to you and you will not enjoy ballet if you do not know what you are doing. Seek out a quality school, with a teacher for adult ballet who knows what she/he is doing and likes doing it. It does not have to be a syllabus program, but it does have to be taught at the level of the students in the class. I would strongly recommend more than one class a week if at all possible. Very hard to progress in ballet with that little bit of training. At least twice, even at the beginning!

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I agree with everything except the "anything but classical music is unacceptable for barre". We have not one but TWO talented pianists who accompany barre with sophisticated jazz. They always select music with an appropriate beat and tempo. Why do you think that ballet cannot be serious and classical unless the music is classical?

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I want to clarify that I too didn't mean that classes for adults have to follow a syllabus. My own don't. :) I only meant that if classes are advertised as syllabus classes, they should be such, and this could be the best way to argue for a refund, as it feels like being the most "objective" of the complaints here, even though it's not the biggest problem with the classes.


Treefrog, I think there is a big difference between a suitable style jazz-music by a pianist, and pop music from a CD. The latter I found never acceptable (ok, maybe once in five years on a special occasion, but you see my point). The first one might very well be ok, if the style is suitable. I don't think barre music has to be classical in the sense of being classic, but it has to be of the classical style most of the time.

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Hi there,


Just one other thing - it is quite normal for adult beginners to skip most of the RAD grades work. The early grades are for younger children and I think they involve a lot of skipping. There are several of us adult beginners here on Ballet Alert that started on Grade 5 or 6, which are good courses that cover a lot of the basic technique and steps.

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To Kate B or anyone with RAD knowledge.


As an adult beginner I also started at Grade 6, but I thought I missed out on something becuase I did not learn the previous grades aswell and was despratly looking for a teacher to teach me the previous grades aswell. The only problem is exam wise grade 6 does not mean anything to me as I am a male dancer. Here in South Africa adult classes are scarce and you've got to take what is available and this teacher was kind enough to tak me into her class. It is fun though learning the ladies sylabus aswell.


But back to the point. If I understand corectly ehat you said then I do not have to worry about grade 1 to 4 aslong as I can get a teacher ro teach me grade 5 properly. As you do not need to do all the previous exams.




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Fred, just substitute walking for the bourrées. And I'm glad that the Academy, by usage at least, considers the successful completion of grade 5 as the Elementary proficiency. These days, RAD teachers are encouraged to go "off syllabus" and give elements, whether barre or center, which will, in their judgments, address the needs of the class better than a strict adherence to the set class. I'd say this is the big change in the Academy in the last five years. Much more discretion is expected of the teacher, not just allowed.


Another thing I'd like to add is that it does little good to use the syllabi if you don't adhere to the curriculum. That is the order of the syllabi, created to make sense and an orderly process of progress. Skipping around among them is not helpful. I myself use a grade 4 or 5 barre for a quick warmup before classes, or for a show.

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Might be wrong but for skipping grade 1 to 4 starting with grade 5 is liking skipping promary school starting with high school and that is a bit in possible because all the basics are taught in promary scool. Imagine starting high school and the teacher must taught you that 1 plus 1 is 2, something you should have learnend in primary school.


Just my opinion



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Guest andalusia

Thanks for all your interesteing and valuable thoughts and advice. I think I'm going to ask the teacher if I can prepare for a RAD exam at the end of the year- I don't really care what level but maybe that will help her structure the classes a little more. There are only 4 people in the class so she should be able to adjust. I asked her about the music once before and she said that she thought mostly pop was best since this is actually a teen class (no adult classes offered and I'm only 20 so that's okay) and she felt that the teens would enjoy it more. (My sister is also in the class and she hates the music as well, so that makes half the class disliking the music.) She said I could bring my own but how would I know what would be good to dance to??? I should get up the nerve to talk to her about these things but she always just whisks in and out and there isn't a chance to talk to her. We'll see what happens...

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