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terrible "open teen/adult" class


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I'm still anxious for my semester of "real" ballet instruction to begin in a few weeks, so I decided to try a class at the school nearest to my home in southern Connecticut. Growing up, it had always been the school that the more serious dancers attended, so I was curious to see what all the buzz had been about (my mother kept me at my local Dolly Dinkle-esque place). I found out that this school offers a free trial class for new students, and that the classes can be taken on a drop-in basis, so I dragged a non-dancing friend along with me to the "Teen/Adult Beginner" class.


Now, the class was only listed as an hour long, and therefore I was a bit skeptical of how productive it could be, but I figured that since it was free, it couldn't do any harm to try it. I also realized that it's pretty much a "competition" school, but I decided to attend anyway. How dumb of me!!


When we arrived at the school, it was pretty empty and we were the only ones on the sign-in sheet. I was hoping, due to this, that we would have a small class. However, the class filled up-- it was populated entirely by young teens fresh from their jazz class (which incidentally cut into the time slot of this ballet class). I felt, at 19, nearly ancient-- which is kind of sad.


The class started 10 minutes late, as the instructor spent some time making the girls quiet down, and awkwardly making the students explain things to my friend and me (i.e., "Girls, tell the new girls what we do before class? Yes, that's right, we stretch our legs.") He didn't bother to learn our names, and referred to us as "New Girls" for the rest of the class. The barre started smoothly- we did a plie combination, a tendu combination, but I was shocked to note the absence of frappes, ronds de jambe, battements, basically the entire barre!! :wink: I definitely did NOT feel up to moving to the center. There was no logical progression of anything from the barre to center. We did some random combinations of plie in second, up to passe releve, side to side. No turns, no jumps. There was no work on the diagonal. We all lined up on our knees (ouch!) and did some arm and head movements. Then, to finish the class we ran around in a circle with outstretched arms. The fact that the director of the school commented on -my- nice lines is indicative that the class was in some dreadful state! :yawn:


The quality of this class was also reflected in the students, all of whom had been attending the class for quite some time. They had holes in their tights, their drawstrings were tied in bows(!!!) Half of the girls had no idea when to do the preparation. They didn't use proper terminology. They were completely off the beat of the music, and many of them were forcing their turnout. It was just kind of sad.


I know that teens are certainly capable of being quiet and disciplined, but only one or two girls in the group actually lived up to that. The class was constantly interrupted due to girls' laughter and talking, making an already short class even shorter.


Anyhow, I'm sorry for the length of this post. I'm sure you've all heard your share of bad stories before and that mine's nothing new. Maybe I'm overreacting. I know I didn't exactly waste any money on this class, but it's just annoying that what was deemed a "teen-adult" open, though there were no adults to be seen, and it was seen as odd that I dropped in in the middle of the year. And, well, that's just a whole hour of my life I can never get back! :rolleyes:

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Well, it seems that in your post there is an explanation as to why there are no adults in the class. I imagine you are not intending to go back, either... :wink: While there are adult students clueless about ballet itself, I think even they would notice the unruly class and time wasted in chat. I think as it is so hard for us adults to make the time and money for classes, we then tend to require more out of them. Not necessary in quality, as we might not yet understand it, but at least in quantity! :rolleyes:

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Thanks for writing about it! At least the class turned out to be an excellent bad example...

I think one benefit of a forum like this is that you can write about experiences like that

and then hear back a collective "yikes!" or "ugh!" or "argggh!" from cyberspace.


I wish I had that kind of support in my work world :rolleyes: ... Instead, I keep a copy of Judith Viorst's

magnificent children's book Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day on the

shelf next to my technical books. It comes in handy, and I thought of it when I read your topic title.

In case you don't know/remember it, here's the first sentence:


I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there's gum in my hair and when I got out of

bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the

sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a

terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day."


Good luck with your semester of ballet...and remember, you can always move to Australia... :wink:

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Oh, yes, Jaana Heino, there is no question in my mind that I'm not going back. It's disappointing, since I was planning on attending their jazz class (but I assume it's of the same nature as the ballet class, so I definitely won't. And I'm so thankful that I didn't have to waste any money on that dreadful class! I'm just sad that there aren't any good adult classes in the area, at my level. Oh well, it'll be back to college with me soon enough!


DreadPirate Roberts, thanks so much-- I laughed at the reference to Alexander... because, of course, it's exactly how I felt. I remember loving that book when I was younger! I just needed to let out my frustration, and it's not as if anyone at home can really relate- my mom thinks my "dance comeback" is rather ridiculous. I'm just so happy that all of the BA-ers are out there in cyberspace, and that somebody's listening. :rolleyes:

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Yes, BA is great because people get it. My own mother, I suspect, feels as yours does. She's so cute: Once, after I'd been taking ballet for some years, I happened to mention I was going to a class that night, she said, "Don't you know everything by now?" :rolleyes:

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Disarm, you said it was supposed to be a beginner class. I dont think you will find a beginner class where you will do turns or a lot of jumps. And doing tendus + plies at the barre seems appropriate for beginner level. I sometimes take a beginner class here in London and the teacher puts a lot of emphasis on placement and alignment. Its a 1,5 hour lesson - 1 hour at the barre where you have some basic plies, tendus, jetes but not much more as most (absolute) beginners would not be able to follow. The teacher usually asks who is new in the class but as it is an open class, there is no need to learn the names of the student.


And if its a beginner class, its not unusal that students are not properly dressed.


I dont think a beginner could do anything on diagonale...


Maybe there is a more advanced class at this school? If you have already some experience a class at elementary level might suit you better :rolleyes:

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I seem to recall we did walks and very slow waltz steps (without turning) and a, uh, half turns in first, kind of like chaines but really slow, in my beginner classes. Not necessarily in the very first ones, but during the first couple of months anyway. Personally, I like it when even the most beginning class contains all the elements of a ballet class, even if the movement vocabulary is somewhat limited and you cannot e.g. do all the barre excercises or big jumps.

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I think it really depends how many level this school offers. If there is just beginner and advanced, then it is more likely that you will do turns in the beginner class. For example at Dancework in London, they offer beginner, pre-elementary, elementary, intermediate, advanced and professional level. Beginner level might do a preparation for pirouette but not the turn itself. IMO, it does not make sense to introduce turns in a beginner class just to give the student the sensation of doing "high culture ballet" I think it is important to keep the class at its designated level, I feel always frustrated when a teacher gets carried away by some professionals attending an elementary class and starts doing wild combination which are far beyond the level of most students (at least that one could execute the steps in a clean way). On the other hand, it always makes me laugh when beginner students attend intermediate classes, just for the sake of "being in an upper level". It is certainly necessary to move up and down and get the best of both but there are certainly limits :-)

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Thank you for sharing your experience- I certainly have had similar ones in the quest to find quality dance training. I've now learned to ask every new studio I call before attending the first class- not only, "do you offer adult beginner ballet classes", but exactly "how old are the majority of the students?". I posted a while back about attending a jazz class where I, at 26 was ancient, and the class was comprised totally of 15 year old girls who would clap as I made it across the floor- I think they were shocked that I could still walk! :blink: Fortunately, I've found a great school which really caters to their adult students.



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DanceScholarLondon-- I understand where you're coming from, and if there had been ANY emphasis on placement and alignment, I would have been fine with just doing plies and tendus. However, there were hardly any corrections given and he had us come to the center after only about 15 minutes at the barre, which was not sufficient by any standard-- my muscles were nowhere near warm, though I suppose I'm less elastic than the 14 year olds! (An hour at the barre of simple exercises like the class you wrote about would be wonderful...)


The only levels in the school are "beginner" and "open". I wasn't asking for pique turns or chaines or anything of the sort, but in the "Introduction to Ballet" class I attended in the city, we at least did a full barre, petit allegro and at least some elementary steps across the floor (like Jaana, waltz steps without turning). About the name thing, it was just awkward that everyone else was called by their name and I was addressed as "new girl". Sorry, maybe I'm just being too picky. I don't want to do things at a higher level than I'm capable of, but I would like to learn all the basics properly. The girls, who had been taking the class for a couple of years or more, could barely follow the simple combinations, which makes something seem really wrong.


Thanks for all the feedback, it's wonderful to know that others have been successful in finding supportive adult classes.

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I agree about actual turns, Dance Scholar. What I was trying to say is that even a real beginner can do something on a diagonal, even if it is just a very basic walk or a very, very slow waltz without turning, and that I like it when something like that is done. I think it is important that even beginners start to learn moving in space, and I do like it when the structure of a ballet class is present even if not quite everything can be done. I did not mean to imply that beginners should do turns or grande allegro! Just that I like there to be a barre, slow and fast center work, and something on the diagonal in practically every class. :blink:


My school as six levels for adults - beginner 1-2, intermediate 1-3, advanced. Beginner 1 means really, truly beginner; classes start in the beginning of the term from basic positions, pliés and tendus, and advance from there. People who have been dancing as kids usually start directly from beginner 2 or even upper. Pirouettes are introduced in beginner 2, usually towards the end of the the second half but this depends on the pace of the actual class regulars and the teacher. Pointe work starts for most of the ladies who ever go on pointe in the beginning of intermediate 1. It is rare that people who have not danced in their teens make it to advanced, though it has happened. Teachers give you a suggestion for the level next year. We do not have "open classes" as such and dropping in is discouraged, though they do take your money if you insist.

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The girls, who had been taking the class for a couple of years or more, could barely follow the simple combinations, which makes something seem really wrong.


Thanks for all the feedback, it's wonderful to know that others have been successful in finding supportive adult classes.


You better look quickly for another school then :blink: Or is there not much choice left where you live?

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Aye, there's the rub, DSLondon. There are no other adult beginner classes in the area. There are some Dolly Dinkle schools as well as a children's school. There is one serious ballet school about a half hour south of me with an open adult class, and I plan on looking into that one when I come home from college; I will have a bit more experience under my belt. I won't be going back to this school, I promise you that! :blink:

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