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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Back to Class...


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We had last week off for Thanksgiving and Nutcracker. (Our performances went well, Merde to those of you who still have some.)


And now it is back to class... of course I have been lazy and am going to die when I try to dance again. I have three classes left and then will not be in class again until probably late January or early February. (I am moving from Houston mid-December, getting married in Austin, going on a honeymoon to Durango, Colorado and then moving to Dayton, Ohio)


What do you do in your off time from class to stay in shape?

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Personally, if I was doing everything that you will be doing over the next couple months, I'd be too exhausted to even think about staying in ballet-ready condition. But, since you asked, I'd recommend the NYCB workout tapes (though I tend to only do the floor-barre sections), a pilates tape (but only if you've taken classes before- if you're not working correctly the tapes won't do you much good) and regular nice, long walks. Back in the days when I used to travel on business, I would regularly write down combinations in class, and then practice with one of those ballet class CDs (both Amazon and Discount Dance carry them), although few hotel rooms had good practice space. My old teacher in New York would also let students tape private or semi-private lessons to use to practice on their own, though with the limited time you have before your classes end, this might not be a practical solution.


Congratulations on your upcoming wedding, and best of luck for your move!

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  • 1 month later...

This might be a too late of a reply, but I find that general conditioning, like walking or running, helps. Also, I like Pilates to get into ballet-shape. :)

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Actually, “staying in shape” can have two connotations. The first is specific to ballet, i.e., doing the specific skills that you are trying to develop. The second is more general, i.e., what Sally Fitt calls dance conditioning. They aren’t the same thing, by the way.


The only way to maintain your ballet conditioning over a time of no classes is to do the sorts of things you do in ballet class. You can do your own class, for example, if you have the space. You can do a “kitchen barre,” or things like ballet basics that I have described before.


I used to do a lot of ballet specific conditioning during vacations, but find that I’m doing less and less. Last summer, for example, I did no ballet specific conditioning during August when our school is closed. That was the first August I had done absolutely nothing related to ballet specific activity and quite frankly I don’t think it made a bit of difference one way or another.


As Sally Fitt defines dance conditioning, it has four components: 1) cardio-vascular; 2) muscular endurance; 3) explosiveness; and 4) flexibility. A good dance conditioning program will include exercises for each component, with perhaps a little extra emphasis on your relative weakness. Things like Pilates, hiking, or whatever fall into the category of activities belonging to dance conditioning.


Personally, I think it is irrelevant what one does for dance conditioning as long as the four components are hit. Over the Christmas holiday I did a dance conditioning session (about 90 minutes) every day except Christmas. My sessions are a real mish-mash of things like rope skipping, petite allegro, medicine ball, Pilates, push-ups, floor barre, improvisational dance and stretching. I make it all up as I go, never repeating the same exact thing from day to day.


I do find myself doing more of the dance conditioning each year. I have no idea if it is really helpful, but it does give me that nice pleasure glow after I have finished and that is all I really care about.

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