Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Advice on taking a hard class


Swiss_Chard

Recommended Posts

Guest CyberDancer

I have to admit that it really really really irritates me when someone who is not ready for the level of a class slows it down with lots of questions.

True they may have paid the same as everyone else for the class, but while asking lots of questions may ensure they get their money worth, it also prevents everyone else in the class from getting their full value.

Link to post

This reminds me of "embarassing class moments" I've had.

 

I don't have a yelling teacher, but he really does expect you to try or not be there.

He just wants you to attempt the movement.

 

I was asked to demonstrate once after his showing us something - it was totally hysterical, then he gave me a public lesson. That is his style. It is not meant to pick but rather to teach courage, and he rewards it. He also has a sense of humor.

 

I think it is good, they can figure out your level watching you at barre, it isn't a mystery you are placed at some level. They expect you to give it your best shot, even if you mess it up.

 

I've spent a lot of Saturdays doing the impossible, and got a couple right. The teacher always appreciated that I tried.

Link to post

I agree with everyone's replies :).

 

There are a couple of benefits to a harder class:

 

1. Although it may seem over your head, eventually when you try an easier class "at your level," it might seem much, much easier! :thumbsup:

 

2. Because the people in your "hard" class are probably more advanced, you could learn from them, and the fact that they may be better at some things may help encourage you (if there's a healthy atmosphere)

 

3. If you can't really do something, then as most people already said, simplify it! When my teacher asks for a triple pirouette, which I cannot do, I just do a double and try do it well... It works :thumbsup:

Link to post

I think it is purely logical to skip the beats or only do a double pirouette instead of a triple, etc.. but only given that you already know HOW to nail a single pirouette to the very least. The real concern here is what to do when not only the enchainements contain those more advanced versions of the steps(ie, doubles, beats, etc...) but also steps the student has never heard of in that very same enchainement, especially when a beginning student's vocabulary tends to be quite limited. What to do then? :flowers: This is what I would like to know from the teachers on the board.

Link to post
balletowoman
also steps the student has never heard of in that very same enchainement

I would probably advise asking one of the student that looks the most comfortable with the whole enchainement about that particular step (not one who is already scratching their heads at the back to remember the order of it -they will need to concentrate on their own shortcomings and so, may not have time for you). Do it slowly, asking a few details (but you won't be able to go into specifics. This should take no more than a couple of minutes, because the other students in class are no teachers)... they can offer a hand, but that's as far as it should go.

 

Then attempt to redo the whole thing with the new bit in the middle... and do your best when it's time to show it. Either the teacher will take notice of it, and come to explain to you in more details/correct you on it, or they may just ignore the bit that is bothering you and correct you on things that are more at your level.

 

In any case, I would say, try your best, but if there are so many steps you've never heard before and it's way above your head, then you may not benefit as much and should probably not attend a class that is way beyond your level. (on average, if you're in a 'harder' class than your level but still able to follow, I would say that there shouldn't be more than 5 things you can't mark or you've never heard of).

 

As far as etiquette dictates, I expect anyone taking an advanced class to go at least through the motion of the step (even if it looks 'marked') and not freeze or go right when it should be left. Mistakes like these are simply not tolerated in an advanced class (of course, everyone will make such mistake at some point, but if it's a recurring problem, there will be real concern for safety, as it is in those classes that grand allegro steps and beats become really a hasard for anyone who isn't in the 'tempo' of the rest of the class).

Link to post

I have a couple of thoughts on the topic of “hard classes.”

 

First a “hard class” is a perception. What is a hard class anyway? You can take a very basic beginning class and make it physically demanding (is that hard?) just by increasing the intensity of doing what you are asked to do (i.e., working harder on the technical points you know you don’t always do so well). I think, however, most people consider a class hard when they are asked to do something they are not entirely comfortable doing.

 

Having said that, let me talk about a basic principle of development. This principle applies to almost every learnable task whether it is physical (like ballet) or mental (like some academic skill). Let’s say that we have two skills, A and B. Further, to do skill B well, we must have complete mastery of skill A. Now, what a lot of people believe is that the most efficient way to get to a point where one can do skill B well, one should work and work on skill A until mastery is achieved, and then move to skill B. I call that the lock step approach to learning and it turns out that it is extremely inefficient. A much more efficient method of learning to doing well in skill B is to alternate between skills A and B.

 

What that means for development in ballet is that if you want to improve, you have to put yourself in situations where you feel uncomfortable (a hard class?).

Link to post
DreadPirateRoberts
... Let?s say that we have two skills, A and B. Further, to do skill B well, we must have complete mastery of skill A. Now, what a lot of people believe is that the most efficient way to get to a point where one can do skill B well, one should work and work on skill A until mastery is achieved, and then move to skill B. I call that the lock step approach to learning and it turns out that it is extremely inefficient. A much more efficient method of learning to doing well in skill B is to alternate between skills A and B.

I agree, Gary. I think (to use your terms) one has to balance between A and B.

Perhaps the increased "learning efficiency" comes because doing skill B provides

variety, changes your focus and expands your horizons, helps to motivate the

reasons for A, and (for lack of a better term) "pulls you along."

 

I think achieving a balance between the harder and easier classes, activities, etc

is the key. I'm sure we can all think of ballet and non-ballet examples. Here's

mine -- I used to play a bit of tennis, and I found that if I played competetively,

against someone who was a better player, that on one hand it often stretched

me to play at a better level -- "over my head" as it were. I wouldn't spend so much

time THINKING between shots; I was too busy running and pushing myself to

play at their level, and not letting my mind get in the way of my body as often

as I normally did. That was the good side. The bad side was that I could also

detect in myself the willingness to sacrifice good form to win a point. If I

gave into that too much, or too often, it could actually harm my game.

 

I think the same is true in ballet -- taking a harder class is good for me because in

some ways I don't sweat the details as much, because I am trying with all my might

to remember and do the combination. But it's bad if I am constantly sacrificing

my form (those all important details) to do so. Great discussion, folks -- thanks!

Link to post
  • 3 weeks later...
silvergreydancer

DreadPirate Roberts.

 

Give me the other Orr! I'm with you in that damm boat again! Two of the classes I take are great. One is just under me and the other is just about the right level. I can do 85-90% of the stuff without many errors. The third class is over my head. I can do the barre all right and the first part of the floor stuff. Then it sort of falls apart. I think as the ballet mistress( this is and old style class) Madame XXXXX said "Your technique is quite strong. You need this type of class to stretch yourself." Gee, I thought I stretched before class! Now if I can't get something quite right, I do my best to do as much as I can. I hope, I'll catch up on the floor after a while.

Link to post
DreadPirateRoberts
Give me the other Orr! I'm with you in that damm boat again! Two of the classes I take are great. One is just under me and the other is just about the right level. I can do 85-90% of the stuff without many errors. The third class is over my head. I can do the barre all right and the first part of the floor stuff. Then it sort of falls apart.

Yes, indeed, Silvergrey, that's pretty much exactly what I'm facing too.

I just got back from a hard class tonight, and I'm exhausted; there were only

three of us adult students, and our instructor was quite hard on us all

tonight, but especially tough on me during the last 2/3 of the floor combinations.

I felt dumb as a plank, and slower than molasses, but I gritted my teeth

and made a little silent promise to myself that no matter what he said,

I was going to listen, and try and try and try again and not let up on

myself no matter how tired I was. It was completely exhausting, mentally

and physically.

 

Outside, with the other two dancers, headed to our cars I hung my head and

said "Wow, I feel so lousy at this sometimes" (Yeah, I know, I was fishing for

support; not too subtle, huh?) Here's what my wise barre-mates (both very

talented) said back to me:

 

Dancer 1: It's cool that he (the instructor) is paying lots more attention to

you now; I think he's taking you more seriously.

 

Dancer 2: And, it's good that he took so much time with you, repeating

steps and turns, because then WE could rest more between combinations! :)

 

Well, so I'm happy that my instructor is really really pushing me, and I'm

discouraged too, that this is such an ordeal sometimes! It's sweet, and

more than a little bit bitter too, just like the best chocolates :thumbsup:

Link to post
silvergreydancer

DreadPirateRoberts,

 

Although, I've not had alot of classes yet. ( I took 4 in 8 days) Alot of what I thought I knew is coming back. Well, sort of. I like the hard classes because I think I try a lot harder to keep up with the better dancers. If I did it wrong, I did it wrong and it will be better next time.

 

One of the first teachers I studied with said to me: Take every correction given in class as if it was yours and check to see if you are doing it properly. I try to do this in class. I try not to disrupt the higher level class as I don't want to waste the teacher or the other students time.

 

When I leave class I always ask for one correction to think about. In each class, I have received a correction that has improved my dancing immediately. It's interesting that they have been simple correction that have made a big difference.

 

Today I got a simple chest position correction that made a difference in balance and my turns have improved. I was throwing myself off center by letting my chest move back of center during the preparation. This was a 1/2" change in the spinal colume just under the shoulder blades! I would not have know that if I hadn't asked.

 

I find the petit allegros are where most of my problems lie. I actually do fairly well on the grand allegro and barre work is usually good to very good. ( I just learned what the parts of the floor work are called.)

 

I always worry when I don't get a correction! I think that it was so bad I'll have to start from scratch!

 

You have a male instructor. Kewl! I've only had a male instructor once for six classes. I worked my butt off! But the technique really improved. I'm not afraid of the hard work :thumbsup:

 

Well, pass the box of Chocolates, todays class was great and I made very few mistakes! I even remembered the final combination. Yeah! Tuesday is the hard class and I am determined to do better than last week!

 

Great to have exchanged coments with you!

Edited by silvergreydancer
Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...