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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adults on pointe


gerlonda

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Hello all,

This is the first time I've posted here in this forum (I've been spending weeks just catching up and reading old posts). This has to be one of the best resources for ballet dancers on the net!

I am currently 25 years old. I have been taking ballet since I was 17 but I was never really "trained." I live in a major city in Wisconsin and I've taken ballet from just about every school there is in town. Once I got to college I settled down on two studios that offered professional-like atmospheres. One of these studios is the official school of the citiy's ballet (ONLY professional ballet in town), and the other is a smaller studio run by former dancers.

Last month I swallowed my pride and contacted the city's ballet school. I said that I was tired of taking "open" classes that had one day a week classes of beginning, intermediate and advanced. I stated that I wanted to take pointe classes with the professionals and have more "consistent" training. So I am proud to say that I tested into ballet VI (with what I believe are like 10-14 year olds). The teacher is mediocre but we are really WORKED, we do things over and over to get the concepts in our heads and muscles. For the past two years I've been taking pointe at the other studio like once a week and was NOT really progressing, now that I'm at the city's ballet school I'm taking pointe 3 times a week.

My question is for the moderators or any one knowledgeable about adult ballet/pointe dancers: Realistically, how good can I become?

Next semester I want to take class everyday, 3 times a week at the city's ballet school and twice a week at the other studio (equaling 4 days of pointe altogether). Do you think this is over doing it or will help me to progress?

I have pretty flexible and strong muscles (but always working on ankle strength) and my stamina is increasing.

I told the ballet school that I want to stick with it and progress from ballet VI to VII, VIII, VIV, and finally to X- the highest level. Realistically, I would probably be in my mid 30's when I reach this point, but I will have had awesomely consistent pointe training, something that I can't get anywhere in town.

I apologize for this long post, but I love ballet, it will always be my first love- jazz and modern just doesn't do it for me.

I don't want to join a professional company, but I would like to do local performances. So again, how good do you think I can become? Do you actually think I can progress through the levels like the "kids?"

Thank you so much for helping me.

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I'm a teacher. I don't know if you include me in the person you trust to answer your question. :shrug:

 

I would say, the chances of you progressing well and consistently are excellent! If you continue being dedicated and work hard, there is nothing stopping you...

 

The only little thing I'm worried about is the fact that you say the teacher is 'mediocre'.

I think if you want to have the best possible chances, then work hard (which I think you are motivated enough to do) and have a great mentor/teacher. If the 2 things aren't met, you have less chance of achieving a good level.

 

Your age isn't an inconvenience (not that much anyway... Up to late 30s is to me, not a bad enough reason not to achieve a goal of 'progressing well or very well in ballet'). After that, I'm not sure, I'm not that old myself yet to decide. :D

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  • Administrators
Victoria Leigh

Hello gerlonda, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers! :shrug: Sounds like you are really serious about your ballet training, and I think you will find a lot of people right here who have the same passion. I moved your post into the Adult Ballet Students forum, as it is really about training and not about shoes. :D:thumbsup:

 

Without being able to see you, we cannot tell you how far you can progress, however, as ballettowoman said, with hard work and good teachers, along with your commitment and more classes, it is very likely that you can continue to move up in levels. To reach the goal you have set for yourself will take moving to daily classes. Are the classes both technique and pointe, with an hour and a half of technique followed by an hour of pointe, or are they just one class with pointe at the end, or are the classes totally on pointe?

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I have a question that was inspired by gerlonda's post, so I hope it is acceptable to ask it here. First of all, congratulations, gerlonda, on your current placement and on your dedication! You were very brave to take this step. Best of luck.

 

Now, the question: How do I know if my adult pointe training is really excellent, and not medicore, as gerlonda had experienced? I am an adult pointe student - the only one at my studio. While I know and accept that there are limitations to my capabilities (age, foot problems, late beginning, counterposing marathion running muscles) I really would like to get the best pointe training I can and to advance as far as I can. Perhaps I would benefit from more specific answers to each of the following:

 

1. In addition to my technique classes, how much pointe work per week would be optimal? Is there a preferred schedule to these classes (e.g., in running, we use a hard-day, easy-day paradigm for training). Is it therefore advisable to do pointe work numerous days per week in small amounts, or longer periods of pointe work just once or twice per week?

 

2. What kinds of exercises are appropriate in pointe class at a beginning adult level? What exercises are too advanced for this level?

 

3. What kinds of corrections should I be looking for from a teacher to evaluate the competence of that teacher in training pointe students?

 

I have read as much as I can find on the topic of pointe training, but little of it is specific to adults and much of it is conflicting, so I am a little lost (ok, a lot lost).

 

Thank you so much for any help you can offer regarding these concerns.

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Thank you all for responding to my post.

Ms. Leigh, the VI classes at the city's ballet school have one and a half hours of technique and then 30 minutes of pointe in the end Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The VI level only meets three days out of the week. The Tuesday class at the other studio is an hour and 15 minutes of technique and 45 minutes of pointe, I would also take an hour and a half technique class on Thursdays at this studio. Do you feel this will be a good combination?

Balletowoman, I say the teacher is mediocre, because she will show a combination and CONSTANTLY forget what she just did. Then she will show the combination again, what she THOUGHT she just did, but it ends up being something totally different and sometimes we (the students) just end up doing totally different things! It can be very frustrating. But I take solace in that she HAS been there preparing the little ones for ballet VII for years and that there is another teacher for ballet VII. My teachers at the other studio (former dancers) are very precise and thorough. At the city's school, I try to keep everything these teachers have told me in my head (i.e. proper alignment and placement). :D

Thank you all for encouraging me, and I appreciate anymore help you have to offer.

I tell myself, some people take martial arts, or swim, or run until their old age- ballet will be MY lifelong passion. :firedevil:

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DreadPirateRoberts
I tell myself, some people take martial arts, or swim, or run until their old age- ballet will be MY lifelong passion. :firedevil:

 

Bravo!

 

And, of course, welcome to our little cyber-home for the ballet-obsessed. After starting dance

classes as an adult, and reading this board for a while, I've learned that there are LOTS of us

out there: adult students, with varying degrees of aptitude and experience and talent. But one

thing I think we share in common is that we tend to NOT fit the standard ballet school mold.

So, it takes work to find school(s)/teacher(s) that give you the training you're looking for, as

often as you'd like it, etc, and it will also take work to push back against the conventions and

groupthink that you'll sometimes find there, either among teachers or fellow students, or parents

of students! But it's fun to be "different" -- and this coming from a guy who also took classes with

10 - 14 year old girls as a beginner :D

 

The pros/teachers and more experienced folks here will give you better advice than I can, but

I did want to say that reading your post brought a smile and a sense of recognition to my

sitting-at-the-computer afternoon. Thanks!

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  • Administrators
Victoria Leigh

Gerlonda, that schedule sounds very good!

 

As to the teacher who forgets, that could be an age factor, and would not necessarily make her a "mediocre" teacher at all. If she is a good teacher, who has just reached that point in life where it's hard to remember what you just did, that is easily remedied by the students themselves taking hold and learning the combination the first time! :D I know that I sometimes have this problem now, and never, ever did before. It's not really bad...yet...but I find that the more I can't do physically, the harder it is to remember, as the kinetic memory does not kick in like it used to.

 

Avalon, I don't think there really is advice for adult students beginning pointe that is any different from younger students beginning pointe. All the same rules apply, in terms of readiness for pointe, facility for pointe, number of technique classes required, and the exercises one does in beginning pointe.

 

Basically, all of the things in the Sticky, "Facts of Life About Pointe Work" apply. One should have at least 3 years of training, 3 classes a week of an hour and a half each. There should be an understanding and accomplishment of alignment, balance point and control zone. The dancer must have a physical facility for pointe work. There should be enough technique to know all of the basic vocabulary of steps, movements in dance, positions of the body, and what the barre excercises are for and how to work on them intelligently to improve placement, feet, legs, flexibility, and of course rotation. There must be enough rotation and foot strength and flexibility to be able to stand on the top of the shoe, not the back of the shoe, with the legs rotated. One needs to understand what motivates movements like relevé, sauté, and piqué. I could go on, but I think this gives you an idea. Beginning pointe starts only at the barre, just learning to elevé, relevé, piqué. and how to USE the feet in pointe shoes.

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Thanks so much, Ms. Leigh. It sounds as if things are proceeding for me just about in accordance with your recommendations, which I very much respect.

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