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Ballet basics


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Just wanted to share this little practice bit. For about the last 4-5 years, I’ve been doing something I call ballet basics on days when I don’t have a ballet class. I’ve sorta, kinda done it religiously and think it has helped me. Perhaps doing something along the same lines might help others.


My ballet basics is just a minimum 15 minute (maximum 20 minute) session I do either in my kitchen or living room (it has hardwood floors). I do it with whatever clothes I happen to be wearing and either wearing socks or bare foot. It consists of doing exercises for 1) the feet, 2) balancing, 3) develop/promenade, and 4) turns. If I were younger, I’d also do something for jumps, but I’m not younger so it doesn’t happen.


Feet—these are tendus, degages, pas de chevals, and any other foot articulation exercises that I run into. Usually, I’ll repeat combinations we’ve done in the last few classes. I never use music for ballet basics. Instead, I try to remember the corrections that teachers have made and think about those while I do the exercise. I try to feel the things related to technique that I want to feel rather than worry about the combination itself, speed or musicality. I either do the exercises as center exercises or if I want to do them as barre exercises I just use the kitchen counter or living room chair as barres. Both work fine.


Balances—I alternate balances with the foot exercises. The balances are the same we usually do in class or others that I happen to like that we haven’t done in class for a while. I’ll usually only do 3-4 balances. As with the foot exercises, I’m thinking about past corrections I’ve heard and trying to feel the muscles that are working and the muscles that should be relaxed.


Develope/promenade—this is just a develope and then promenade in that position. I always do promenades en dehors because they are harder for me and because it seems that whenever I get better on any kind of en dehors turning, my corresponding en dedans turning also gets better. I admit to being lazy on this exercise and sometimes I don’t develope anything or even promenade in a ballet position. Sometimes I’ll just put one foot on top of the other or stand in a stork stretch and promenade two full rotations. I have found promenading in this was has taught me a lot about how my alignment tends to break down as I rotate.


Turns—when I first started ballet basics my turns were always the same—en dehors pirouettes from 4th. I learned, however, that my pirouettes from 4th improved much faster when I did all kinds of turning rather than just one kind of turning. I now also do a connecting step because I’ve found that often my turns get goofed up as a result of the connecting step rather than as a result of how I was turning. Ditto all the stuff I said about thinking of the corrections and trying to feel the movement in your muscles.


I have no strict order, though I always start with some foot exercise. Also I try to not consistently do one exercise (e.g., pirouettes from 4th) but rather do several different exercises of similar type. Experimenting is the norm. I’m lucky in that I have found a space near the school (actually it’s a hallway) where I can take a good warm up before any class. I’ll often do ballet basics mixed with stretching as a warm up prior to taking a modern or jazz class, but most of the time it’s in the good old kitchen.

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Thanks Garyecht!


I do something similar also kinda sorta religiously :)


I love to work at my own pace because it feels like I can really get into the right muscles and feel them working "properly." It can definitely be felt the next day.

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Guest BalletBrat

When my husband and I bought our house three years ago, I have to admit that a good part of my reasons were because of the floor to ceiling mirrors in the front room, my home studio!


Thank you for sharing your ballet basics!

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If you don't mind me asking... what's promenade?


Sorry if I'm being annoying asking these basic questions - I don't seem to be able to find them in any dictionaries and I've only started ballet 2 months ago!!






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I am guessing the promenade is the little tricky move where you are in arabesque or attitude, on one foot of course, in center. You lift your heel ever so slightly and use a series of raising and lowering that heel until you have made a full turn.

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Oh right!!! I've seen people do that!!


And I know why I wouldn't have heard the teacher mention it before... I can hardly balance on my arabesque, let alone turning.... :thumbsup:


Am trying hard though!


Keep dancing,


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It is a surprisingly tricky thing to do. I find it easier in arabesque than in retire or attitude.

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Promenade in ecarte is a definite confidence killer. You need a really stable placement for that one. I find that particular step very depressing. Luckily, my teachers don't give it very often :D .


My new apartment has a mirrored backsplash in the kitchen. My roomate (also a ballet dancer) has deemed it "the horrible tummy mirror". All you can see in the thing is lower stomach region and butt. I practice a lot of balancing at home, and port de bras work. Gotten a bit lazy about dragging out the "gear"; a giant balance ball thing I'm supposed to work on my hip mobility with, and the ankle weights for floor barre.


This thread has reminded me get off my duff and start doing more work at home :thumbsup: I have no right to complain about my weak extension if I'm not doing extra work to expediate the strengthening process.

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Prominade is also called tour lent and seems to be in most class adagio combinations once you reach a certain level. At least that is my experience. It’s one of those things that looks sooooo easy, perhaps because the body isn’t moving at all while you are rotating, but once you first try it, you keep saying to yourself, “how did they do that?”


I confess to loving this exercise because to do it well, you must maintain good body alignment while you are turning. Rotating magnifies your every alignment weakness. Consequently, you know what to keep your mind on throughout class. Though I have no way of knowing for sure, as I said I also believe that working on my en dehors promenade has resulted in big improvements in all types of en dehors turns

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Guest BalletBrat

Ah, promenades, I feel like one of those music box ballerinas when we do those in class, I really love them.


I have one mirror on my wall which I have deemed the only one suitable for practicing in, as it is the "skinny mirror", I love that mirror. :wink:

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  • 3 months later...
And I know why I wouldn't have heard the teacher mention it before... I can hardly balance on my arabesque, let alone turning.... :thumbsup:



Well, if i may add my two cents here

maybe for a less advanced student, a good intro to promenades would be to do them in a less hard to balnance in position, such as "cou-de-pied" , so you can focus on the turning part without worring in your extension/aligment/what-not is correct. We've just begun doing this in classes recently, and even though the teacher did explain promenade could be done in all sorts of positions, were all still working on not sucking at the simple ones first :)

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IMO it is easier in arabesque than in cou-de-pied. At least your arms can counterbalance your extended leg.

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My teacher gives it in attitude back a lot. I think this may be easiest for most people at different levels


I think coup de pied and retire ARE harder for some reason. Maybe because you're not feeling your back as much.

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I also agree that arabesque is easier, though my arabesque is barely above a tendue! I think it's like a cat without a tail doing the turn in coup de pied!

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