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Feeling lost...

Guest tkb

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Hello all,


I am a new member here. I have been taking ballet for about 5+ years as an adult student. Recently I have started taking advanced class with my teacher's suggestion. She thinks I must push myself to move on to the next level, which I totally agree. I think I am doing pretty well in my intermediate class.


But in this advanced level, I feel like I am an unwanted guest. The class seems like too fast for me, I haven't even learned some of those steps yet. My new teacher in the advanced class doesn't seem like to give me corrections or explanations, so I have no idea what I'm doing. Sometimes I feel like I'm so out of place, or left out.


Is this normal when one starts going on to the next level? If so, how long should I wait until I really feel comfortable in the class? Right now, I feel like I'm lost in the class... sigh...

Edited by tkb
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Hello tkb, welcome to the Adult Ballet Students forum on Ballet Talk for Dancers! :D


It is somewhat normal to feel a bit lost when you move from an Int. to and Adv. level, although if there are really a lot of things that you have never had before, it might be good to still take some Int. classes and ask the teacher if the class is ready to learn some of the things they are expected to know in the next level. In the meantime, I would suggest asking the teacher of the Adv. class for some help, if it is not offered. Or, determine the strongest dancers in the class, and ask them to help you with the new things. Most would be happy to help, I think. :shrug:

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Greetings, tkb!


Been (am) there, done (doing) that, and I've got the sweaty tee-shirt too! I'm an

adult student who's been doing this for about 4 years now. My evening classes

shift in complexity based on who is there, but there is usually one a week that is quite

advanced, because the dancers from a performing company are there. For months

I hated it, but sticking with it over time wore down my resistance and fear of doing things

wrong, looking stupid, etc. As Ms Leigh suggests, getting pointers from other folks

can work really well. I have found, over time, that I love the seriousness and energy of

the more advanced class, and learning by watching the really talented folks take class.

(And, it sounds evil to say it, but I actually like to see that once in a rare while even THEY

make mistakes too! :wink: )


But I did speak with my teacher about it before I started attending. He said most

everyone has exactly those sorts of fears, but not to worry. He said " it's a good idea

to have at least one class per week that is matched exactly to your level, one easier one to

give you a chance to process things and review the basics, and an "over your head" class

to pull you along." And, also (in my words) to remind me of what I'm aiming for! :wink:


Finally, welcome to our forum!

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Thank you for your comments, Victoria, DreadPirateRoberts, they made me feel much better! I'm glad to know how I am feeling now is pretty normal. I had even started to believe they don't want me in that class. But I guess everybody goes through the same stage. I won't hesitate to ask for help next time!


I still take some Int. and Beg. classes and they are great help. I can actually work on myself in those classes. I will be patient until I can feel this way in the advanced class too!


Thank you all again!!! :wink:

Edited by tkb
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Almost a year later I am still :wink: struggling with the transition from my Elementary class to the Intermediate class. I don't have any advice really, but I thought I'd let you know that the problem is wide spread.

One thing I've been noticing is that like all else in ballet my comfort level is increasing at a truly un-noticable pace :o but it is actually increasing.


True Story: I used to have to go get a hamburger, fries and milkshake after my weekly Intermediate class. :wink: I had to bribe myself into going, and that was the only thing that worked.

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Dear tkb;


Congratulations on being moved up!


If your teacher thought that you are ready for this, then you are. I have seen lots of students who were more than capable of moving up a level, but who don't seem to want to because they would feel "unconfortable" - but nobody learns when they are comfortable!


The only way to learn to do more difficult steps, jump higher, do more beats, dance at a faster tempo, etc. is to try it. By necessity it will feel "bad" and you will feel clumsy and inept, but if you keep at it, you will get better! This is normal and every dancer goes through it.


I'm glad to hear that you are taking the Int and Beg classes as well. They are really important in that they will allow you perfect skills while the Adv class challenges you to learn new skills.


I know exactly how you feel, though. A long time ago, when I first started dancing, I took a beginners' class (Ballet I) starting in the summer. After the summer, I was promoted to Ballet II. Starting the next summer, I was promoted to Int. The only class above that was Advanced. I was very excited that I had progressed so rapidly. For that summer, I decided to take Ballet II, my old class, in addition to the Int class I had been promoted to.


My first Int class was positively tramatic. There were a bunch of company dancers taking this class for extra class hours. Everyone in the class was either stepping down to get more hours or they had been in the Int class for a year or more. I was completely out gunned!


It was a "white-knuckle" barre - too fast, too complicated, and several steps I had never seen before. Thank goodness I still took the Ballet II class where I could dance and feel secure and confident. There were several days after the Int class that I went home in tears, but I stuck with it and I caught up. This taught me a valuable lesson.


Good luck!! :wink:

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What's the line between "enough harder to push you to learn new things" and "so much harder you sacrifice everything you've learned just trying to learn the combinations and keep up"?


For example, last year I -- a once-a-week beginner -- was in a class with several adults who were either more experienced or who took class more often. Pirouettes were part of the class. Part of the time I thought, "This is stupid. I can't even balance in relevé, let alone turn." (And often, I would just practice balancing and not turning.) But some of the time I did try them, and darned if I didn't nail one -- once -- by the end of the year. So I don't know ... :wink: Am I better off for having been pushed, or would my time have been better spent learning the basic position well enough to support the action?

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I do think there is something of a personality effect that goes on. Some people rebel at being at the bottom, seeing most of the others in class better than they are. Others, like me, love being in class where most of the others have superior ability and who we can try to copy as best we can. I know the most enjoyable class I’ve ever been in consisted of 7 professional dancers from the school’s ballet company, 6-7 very talented amateurs, and me, who was clearly the least talented person in the room. At the barre, I was sandwiched between two professionals. I had never performed better (or since I think) than I did in that barre.

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The best advice I can give is to go ahead and move up, but continue to take a beginner class once a week in addition to the more advanced levels. I have made a practice of this for years, and I find that more and more advanced dancers I know are following my lead in this regard. Continuing to take level one classes is good training for people who teach or aspire to teach -- remembering how to break things down and watching how beginners pick things up (or have difficulty with same). Also, doing combinations in 'slow mo' is far from easy. It's interesting to see how breaking things down can actually stump more advanced dancers who are used to doing things so quickly. Doing a slow glissade or doing turns in quarters and halves instead of multiples can challenge more advanced dancers. That's my take, anyway. :wink:

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This issue seems to be intensified by the nature of adult open classes. There is no syllabus to insure some degree of cohesiveness and logic in one's training. At my studio there is a huge jump between the Basic class and the I/II class and even a larger one between the I/II and the Intermediate. As a result, most of the adults just stay in the I/II class because they can't keep up in the Intermediate. And as a result of more advanced students staying in the I/II class, the I/II class ends up being too advanced for the new Basic students entering the class. We really need the Intermediate teacher to teach a transition class in between the I/II and the Intermediate class, but I am pretty sure that won't happen.


I think this is why adult students who are serious about ballet end up taking classes at several different studios; it seems it is the only way to get exposed to the new vocabulary necessary for transitioning into a more advanced level where you are expected to know technique that you have never been taught at your previous level. Perhaps this may be an option for tkb in trying to bridge the gap between her intermediate and advanced class.


I agree with Gary that, at least to some extent, one's preference between the so-called "sink or swim" philosophy of training versus the "learn to walk before you run" philosophy of training is a reflection of one's personality style.


My personal belief is that, no matter how old you are, becoming a better dancer is still a function of time x intensity of training x quality of training (as I believe Ms. Leigh has talked about before). My personal opinion is that adults generally push themselves through the process too quickly. While I take one or two classes/week slightly above my technical ability (to expose myself to new vocabulary and to build strength), I have decided to "flunk myself" and take another year of Basic ballet. I figure if I really practice the fundamentals and get good habits into my muscle memory early on, my technique won't fall apart [/i]quite so badly later on in the process. I have also finally found a school with a syllabus that will help with continuity in my training. Of course, everyone is different; there is no one right way to train. At the end of the day, I think you just have to know something about your goals and learning style to know what will work best for you.

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it's a good idea to have at least one class per week that is matched exactly to your level, one easier one to give you a chance to process things and review the basics, and an "over your head" class to pull you along."


So true. As far as what is "too advanced", I'd say it's a class where you are a road hazard to the rest of the class, or one where you can't even begin to get more than, say, two combinations per class.


Of course, along with taking classes at multiple places to get "enough" (haha), taking classes at multiple levels offer more opportunities. For me this the preferred solution because my "home" studio is much much much closer to my home and office than any of the other options.


This issue seems to be intensified by the nature of adult open classes. There is no syllabus to insure some degree of cohesiveness and logic in one's training. At my studio there is a huge jump between the Basic class and the I/II class and even a larger one between the I/II

This ain't the half of it where I go--the classes with the same name vary a lot in difficulty depending on who the teacher is.

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I don't post very much but this is something that I've spent so much time (too much time?) thinking about over the years... however, I will try to keep this short :wub:


Just in my humble opinion - things that I have come up with so far:


If a teacher has invited you to be in a class, or if they challenge you to try a new skill - they think that you can handle it - try your best, work very hard - and see what happens over time. :jump:


If a class is causing injury greater than the "normal" aches and pains - you may want to wait a little while... it can turn out not to be worth it... not being able to dance at all is not so fun :grinning:


Having said that... yes, there are still days where I feel like an ugly ugly duckling (yeah, I know, :wink:) but it just seems to makes me work harder... no matter how tough it gets I could never imagine quitting - somehow it's all worth it.

Edited by garnet
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Hi tkb,


I just want to echo Ms. Leighs encouragement to ask questions/ask for help! The other students quite often have the same/similar questions (you'd be surprised!), and, for the advanced students, having a familiar step broken down/explained often leads to a lot of "oh, I never thought of it like that before! That helps so much!"...



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  • 3 weeks later...

I know what you mean. Most schools only offer two levels of adult ballet. Beginner/Advanced Beginner and Intermediate/Advanced. It's really not fair because it ruins the flow of the class when a real beginner with absolutly no expierence waltzes in (no pun intended) to a beginner class and doesnt come back the next week out of intimidation of the advanced beginners. I've been on both sides and its not fair. The real beginners should really be walking into a beginner class without feeling out of place and the advanced beginners shouldn't have to "not work on piroutettes" that night because less advanced students just happened to come. And those advanced beginners are usually asked to take the intermediate level but are scared. Which in turn, isn't fair to the people who really want and need a pure beginner class. I think there should be four levels for adults. Beginner, Advanced Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced. And then everyone can find a level they are happy with. Unfortunetly most schools are not willing to give adult ballet that kind of attention. And most schools that do offer adult ballet dont have that strong of a following to offer that many classes which is why adult students usually have to fend for themselves when it comes to levels. If your school has a huge problem with this, I know mine does, maybe the advanced beginners trapped in the forever "beginner" class should get together and ask for a strictly advanced beginner level. I'm sure if you have enough devoted adults to make up a class it might work. This will then leave some room for a class where people can really learn from scratch.

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