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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adult Performance Opportunities


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I am changing studios again in the winter and I am trying to decide between two different places. One thing that intrigues me is that one of the studios offers performance opportunities for the adults. Not in a recital, but as parts in their ballets. (They do Nutcracker and Cinderella.) When I talked with the studio owner she said that adults are given the same roles as the children assuming they fit in the costumes. So that seems to me that adults aren't given roles unless they are advanced, because the beginner roles will probably have smaller costumes.



Now my topic of conversation, as and adult, have you had a chance to perform? Do you wish you have? Has anyone gone to a studio where they have forced you to perform?


Have any of the adult beginners had the chance to perform?



I'm really interested in what other people have to say about this and couldn't seem to find anything from the search feature.

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Adults amy end up doing first act peasant dances, or simply being on stage as a supernumerary.

Rather than picking a studio on the chance to perform, I would pick a studio on the quality of their teachers.

Hope you do get a chance to perform! It is something you will never forget.



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(I have narrowed it down to studios of what seems to be equal caliber... I am now deciding between the two.)


I was also just wondering what others experiences with performing was.

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I love performing- it adds a certain magical something to my dancing- my movements are bigger, my mime more expressive, I get a rush from it! If you have never done so or haven't in a long time, I would go for it- it's almost time for nut rehearsals! Even the smallest roles are an opportunity to learn something- I always learn other solos and corps parts and such because it gives me something to do. It comes in handy in case they need an understudy. I think it's the pefect time of year to give it a shot- you can switch studios in January.

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I've only performed once, at a student show after the Finnish adult dance camp. The performing was ok, and kind of fun, but what I found was a major learning and fun experience for me was the rehearsals. I had the luck to be with a very good teacher and rehearser (uh, that's not the word in English, is it?), Ms Jane Spackman, who really helped us understand what performing and thus dance on stage is about, and got it all running together and smoothly so that we could enjoy ourselves.


After that experience, I don't think I could have really understood performing dance forms without having performed myself. The classes are what make the dance, but they are not the dance... it's kind of difficult to explain, and might be it is self-explanatory to everyone else. But anyway, unless you have performed when younger and know what it is like, I recommend performing, even in a very minor walking role, just for to get the rehearsal experience.

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I have had the opportunity to perform twice, on the Finnish dance camp. I enjoyed the experience immensely. I currently consider myself a lower to medium intermediate level dancer.


In our school there is also an adult performing group consisting of advanced and some upper intermediate level dancers. They perform short parts of classical ballets usually 2-3 times a year. Generally it is a corps piece. Most people in the group stated ballet as children/teenagers and never stopped, or stopped only for a short while. Some stopped for a longer time and a few started as adults. There are also a few professionals in that group. (They get the soloist parts if there are some in the piece.)


I want to eventually dance in that group. I would probably still continue to take classes even if I never got to perform (I enjoy class), but my priorities in class would probably change.




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At my first ballet studio I was in two shows. The first time, some of the adult beginners class did a little (very easy, thank goodness!) dance, and then stayed on stage being what I called mobile scenery! Basically we were a sort of link between the other dances, plus we moved props around when required.


The second time I went in the production solely because I wanted to have the opportunity to learn from Harold Collins. I had to work very hard to get to the standard of the rest of the dancers (who were from the level above mine), but I did find it a very valuable experience.


In the two studios I attended following this, I wasn't involved in any performances, because to be in the performances you had to be part of the performance group, and none of the adults were in the performance groups. I don't know whether this was because none of the adults were interested or whether they weren't encouraged/allowed.


It is a lot of work being in performances, but it is a very valuable experience. However, I'm also quite self-conscious about performing, because while it may be cute when a six year old stuffs up on stage, it certainly isn't cute when I stuff up!

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Have I had a chance to perform?


As a dancer, I’ve had many opportunities to perform, but the only ballet performance I’ve been in is my school’s adult show, which, by the way has more modern, jazz and Spanish performances than ballet performances. And there are more adult ballet classes at the school than any other type class.


You can pay a fee and get some tiny part in one of the dance company’s performances (e.g., a person who sits in the background). Personally, I think that’s a total waste of time, money and energy.


I started my dance life as a ballroom competitor, and in that world you perform a lot—competitions, demonstrations, exhibitions.


I’ve been in two amateur modern companies and had many opportunities to perform in those companies. Seems like, at least around here, little amateur modern companies spring up, perform for a few years, and then disband. Usually, they are started and run by a very talented older adult who wants to perform, choreograph, teach, and is willing to do the work needed to keep the company stocked with dancers and performances scheduled. I found my experience in these two companies tremendously rewarding, just plain fun, if not a little on the time consuming side.


My sense is that it’s a whole lot easier to start and maintain an amateur modern company than an amateur ballet company. In fact, I’ve never heard of an amateur ballet company, though somewhere out there some probably exist.


I’ve performed in some fashion all my life, and enjoy it. I like being in front of people and enjoy being in that position. I think it’s one of those things that everyone should do at least once in his or her life.


The negative side of performing is the amount of time needed for rehearsal. And for much of that time you are just standing around waiting. If your goal in dance is to become as skilled as you can become, performing does get in the way I think assuming that you only have so much time to give to dance. If you are performing once a year and only spending say 5-10 hours in rehearsal outside of class, then that’s entirely a different matter. That is about what’s required for my school’s adult performance and that seems to work fine for most people.

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There is no experience quite like performing and it's an experience I highly recommend. The thrill of dancing in front of an audience is unbelievable. From performing I have learned self-confidence, dancing with emotion, acting, how to dance under pressure, and how to think quickly when things go wrong. Although I never needed external motivation to improve in class, I find that if I have to do a step in front of an audience, I learn to execute it all that much better in class. The only downside is that, when you are performing you tend to focus on the performance choreography, so it's important to have performance-free time and to still stay well-rounded by your classes.


That being said, I haven't performed ballet since my early 20's. And since there aren't really any opportunities for adults here, I won't be any time soon. I don't think my dancing is any different because I am not performing, but personally I miss it and do musicals in community theater just to have that experience of dancing in front of a crowd.


I must admit that since I have taken ballet and performed since I was a child, my perspective may be very different from that of an adult beginner. But if you have any interest I say go for it. If you don't, I think you should focus on class. And don't let anyone "force" you to perform. It isn't necessary for an adult whose goal in dancing is to have fun.

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In fact, I’ve never heard of an amateur ballet company, though somewhere out there some probably exist.

They're called "civic" or in the old days, "regional" ballet companies. There are a lot of them.

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Great questions, and answers! It's fun to read other folks' experiences

with being onstage.


The studio where I take ballet has an affiliated performing company, and I

have appeared on stage in one of their performances. My role: basically

a souped-up supernumerary. Flourishes, bows, very simple steps, etc.

Like wembley described, sort of an adult-sized piece of mobile scenery.

Plus I helped out backstage.


Would I recommend it as an experience: absolutely! Not only for the

thrill of it, and the exposure to the alternative universe that exists

backstage, but also as LisaB mentioned, because it really does

help reinforce that the purpose of dance is expressivity. I'm hooked;

my goal is to continue to be "moving scenery" and eventually work

my way up from "Parent/Villager 2" to "Townsperson" :angry: And who

knows, maybe one day even be promoted to "Courtier". :grinning:

(A guy has to dream, ya know!)


Another thing to think about is the fact that as Garyecht

points out there is a lot of time spent in rehearsals, waiting around,

etc. But the upside of that for me was that I could spend that

time watching the performers, and learning by watching them up

close, repeatedly. After a while it can get boring, sure, but if you're

curious you can learn a lot about all the details that take one from

dancing well in a studio to performing well on stage.


Finally, since I gathered from your post that you might have some

concerns about feeling "forced" to be part of the performance, I'll

mention that there are/were some adult dancers in our school who

did NOT appear on stage. Some had no connection to the performances

at all; others decided that they wanted to help backstage, or selling

tshirts/etc, or even some talented folks who did graphic design,

photography, and videography, gratis. So, if you want to contribute

to a small production there are LOTS of ways to do so that don't put

you center stage. I can't say for sure, but I think this helped to build a sense

of camraderie and even some friendships among the students in our studio.


Good luck in choosing a new studio!

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Me and my big mouth... I have to add one additional thing that I loved about

performing in a ballet: The Music. If you decide to perform in a ballet, I guarantee

you that you will know that music forever! That may be a mixed blessing, depending

on the particular ballet :grinning:


But I think it's kind of neat, actually. Well, really for me it was more complicated than

that; my relationship with the music for our ballet was like some romances I've had:

you know, at first I was madly, totally, completely in love, then more time went by and I

liked her well enough, then after MORE time together we barely tolerated each other, and

then we broke up and I was relieved and a little glad as well, and now, after some time

has passed I miss her a lot, and when I hear of her again I feel warm and tingly and sad all

together because of what is over and finished and will never be again.



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Thanks all for the replies! It was great to hear about everyones opportunities to perform. I'm glad to hear there are studios out there that let the adults do it... I don't even mind the mobile scenery route- I've put in to be a party parent for my current studios nutcracker, but since I don't have a daughter there (I don't have kids!) I'm way down on the list- luckily there is no fee.


I've performed a lot with dance. Almost eight years of competitive dancing, but never ballet. The notion of a ballet seems so different than being in a competition or even a recital where you are in twelve dances or so. It's just something about ballet that makes it so difference. And while I'm a life long dancer, I'm a new ballet dancer... and it certainly doesn't help that I'll be having to change studios every 3 years or so (silly Air Force has this notion that it has to move my husband-to be, and that just ruins my ballet schedule :angry: )

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I’m clearly out of my knowledge domain, but I’ve always referred to the ballet company that’s attached to my school as a regional company, though the dancers have contracts and are paid a wage (not a living one, however). And the dancers in the company are vastly superior to even the very best adult ballet students at the school.


I also assume that civic ballets or even very small regional companies do have things like boards of directors and fund raising capabilities to help pay for at least part of their productions. And here too I’m assuming that the quality of dance is beyond that of the adult ballet student.


I know of schools around here that have “companies,” but most of the dancers are young students at the school, with a very few adults (some who I think have had professional careers) mixed in. College dance departments also have concerts, which I assume include some classical ballets, but again there is an association with a school.


When I was speaking of amateur ballet companies, I was thinking of really really really basic amateur enterprises—no boards of directors, no school associations, with the overwhelming majority of dancers adults like those you would find in an advanced adult ballet class, for example. I would think that such an enterprise would be very difficult to undertake, at least with respect to ballet vis a vis modern. I mean, I assume classical ballets cost more to produce and that classical ballet dances are more difficult to choreograph.


I know if as an adult I wanted to create an adult amateur company to perform, I’d create it as a modern rather than as a ballet company if for no other reasons than financial, availability of adult dancers, and choreography.


Regardless of whether a dance company is regional, civic, associated with a school, or just the most humble amateur enterprise, my hat goes off to those who make it all happen either creatively or financially. It’s a big job.

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"Regional", in contemporary usage, has come to mean "a company in a secondary or tertiary metropolitan area." But the usage of "amateur company" still persists in the Southeastern/Northeastern/etc. Regional Ballet Associations. Some of these student companies perform with production values that would equal or surpass some professional companies. I use "civic" to denote these kinds of companies. They include adult dancers if their technical abilities are up to the standards and the repertories of the company. I've known, over the years, a lot of dancers in their forties, fifties and even sixties, still dancing Swan #8 or Wili #15.

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