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Ballet Talk for Dancers

28 and in need of advice!

Guest newdancer

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Guest newdancer

Hi All!


I'm so happy to see a bulletin board for adult dancers. It's also really nice to see that there are so many other adults out there who are just beginning ballet! Age should never stop us from doing what we love!!

As for me, I will taking a beginning ballet from a community college. I heard the program is pretty good. I was just thinking if going to a dance studio would be better? The college offers a dance program, so ballet II would be next class and then Pointe I. I want to move on to pointe eventually, I was just wondering if a studio would move me along quicker.

I know it will take time and I'm ready for some hard work.


The class I will be taking in Jan. will be 2x a week. I think thats good for starters?!Does it matter if some teachers teach a mix of styles or is Russian better? There is a ballet academy that teaches the Russian method. I was thinking that taking a private class would be something that I would like to add later this year, along with my beg. ballet......Now I wonder if there would be a conflict of teaching styles in my ballet instruction from the community college and the ballet academy. I guess I'm just so excited.


How is everyone at stretching? I have been taking spin classes for the last year and I'am currently working on getting more flexible, but not even close to the splits yet smile.gif Do teachers want you to be really, really flexible if you want to move on to higher levels?


Lastly, what are the dress codes for other dance studios out there or colleges that you all attend? Do they require hair in buns and the whole deal? The college said it was a pretty relaxed dress code, but I was just wondering if that means its not a serious enviornment. Tell if I'm just thinking about this all way too much smile.gif


I look forward to chatting about everyones expieriences too. I have read a lot on these message boards and its great to see such a support team!


Best of luck to everyone!





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Welcome, newdancer, to the Adult Students' Forum at Ballet Talk here at Ballet Alert! Online!


Welcome to the world of ballet, too. I think that you may find that you might want to supplement a 2x/week schedule with an outside class. At the very rudimentary level, practically every method is the same. There may be some nomenclature differences, but I think if you took one more class a week outside the college, that would be plenty for an adult beginner. You can add more wherever you like as you develop technique and strength.


What say, gang? What's been your experience starting as adults?

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Guest djinrain

Staring ballet as an adult is very rewarding but also very difficult! Slow down and don't worry about how soon you'll get to pointe. I thought about it a lot more before I actually got into dance class. Now it dosen't seem so important.


As for dress codes, I take lessons at a ballet studio and for adults the dress code is more relaxed than for the kids. For us you must wear your hair off your neck, and tights, leotard, and ballet slippers of almost any solid color. Most of us do the standard pink shoes, white/pink tights and black leotard thing anyhow. Luckily we get to wear a little sweater or top if it's cold, a luxury not afforded to the kiddos.


Good luck! I hope you enjoy the wonderful world of ballet!

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Experience on starting as an adult? Do it, do it, do it! It's definitely worth it.


I'd say that two times a week for a starters is ok. You learn pretty quickly that way too, if you start from zero experience. You'll pretty soon find either that ballet is not for you, or that you positively grave for third, and fourth, and fifth class. smile.gif I feel that starting any new sport one should give oneself a "tune in" period, to see if it's okay, rather than rush into it and overexhaust oneself. But maybe that's just me?


We don't have a dress code for adult classes (kids have to have a certain color of leotard and tights and slippers), other than long hair must be tied (braiding's enough, though), and no jewelry etc. In beginner classes you see most anything, but teachers encourage wearing tight enough clothes so that they can see what you are doing and give corrections, and on higher levels practically all the adults seem to wear tights and leotards.


[ December 13, 2001: Message edited by: Jaana Heino ]

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Hi Newdancer


I've tried a few methods now - RAD, Cecchetti and Russian. As Mel said, for a beginner they all seem pretty similar, but with one important exception. It may just have been my teacher's own style, but in the Russian classes the exercises were done much slower. I found this to be very beneficial as it makes you really concentrate on doing everything correctly, and allows you to really feel which muscles should be working and which should be relaxing. But I took Russian classes alongside RAD, and I think the slight difference in emphasis was a benefit rather than a hindrance.


As for number of classes, if you have access to three classes a week then I'd go for it, but maybe not if any of them are on consecutive days - the body can need a day to recover! Because of a lack of suitable classes I've mostly taken private classes up until now, and if you can afford then I'd recommend it - having the complete attention of the teacher means more corrections and therefore less bad habits.


It's still very important to be in class with other people, though, so I'd say that two regular classes and one private class per week would be great. I'd also recommend practising at home between classes, but don't overdo it! Stick to practising the very basic barre exercises, and take great care to do them right. At one point I was doing an hour of barre every day that I wasn't at class, and after a couple of weeks my strength, balance and flexibility had improved massively.


As to dress-codes in class, I've only attended one regular class and that had no code - most people wore ballet shoes, but tracksuit bottoms were the norm rather than tights. My experience was that this class wasn't very serious at all, so I'd say dress-code does reflect seriousness. In my private classes I've always worn tights and a close-fitting t-shirt - if your clothes hide mistakes in your technique, how can the teacher correct you? So if you're serious, wear the proper clothing.


Hope that helps... Good luck!


[ December 13, 2001: Message edited by: Mr Robin ]

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Hi Newdancer!


I personally have teachers of different styles and I find I like it. They put emphasis on different things, so you see more facets of ballet than you otherwise would. I'm not sure wheter that will eventually slow of quicken your progress, though, since I'm a beginner myself. I found the different names for steps were not a problem after I realized that the naming systems were not the same.


My flexibility is far from ideal, but I've found that more often strength (instead of flexibility) is the limifting factor in my physical ability to turn out, lift a leg or balance. (There are of course other limiting factors too, most notably a serious lack of coordination... wink.gif )


So I've started stretching the mucles where inflexibility is an issue. (Like my hamstrings. I seem to have a strong lower back and the height of extension in my arabesques is decided by the length of hamstring in my supporting leg. Go figure.)


A regular stetching program would probably do me more good, but I'm busy and lazy. tongue.gif Maybe I'll get around to it if my fanaticsm about ballet rises to new heights. wink.gif


As for clothing I'd like to join everybody else in the chorus of wearing as tight-fitting and merciless clothing as your sense of personal comfort can make yourself to wear - if leotards feel intimidating try to wear something that approximates the effect.


We don't have a dress code for adults in my school, so I was quite unsure what to wear.

I tried on a few leotards and even bought one, but I couldn't make myself to wear it to class at first - I felt pretentious, like I was an overgrown clumsy adult pretending to be a great ballerina or something. So in the end I did my first half-year in micro-short super-tight biker shorts (ones without the biker pad) with matching tights and ballet slippers, tight one-color T or 3/4-sleeve shirts and a bun. I still think that is not too bad for a compromise. smile.gif

Nowadays, after getting used to seeing leotards in the class, worn by normal adult beginner people, I'm wearing mine occasionally too. I still feel a slightest bit self-concious - so I usually have a tight shirt over it, but I guess that too will pass with time.

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Guest newdancer

Thank you all so much for the great advice!!

I was so happy so see such a quick response. smile.gif

I guess after my first two weeks of class, I'll look into getting private instruction once a week. So now I have another question...... Do most teachers give private instruction for a 1/2 hour or an hour? And what would be the price range to expect? Again, I really love the guidance you all have provided me.


Thanks, Newdancer



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I would say an hour is the norm for a private class (expect twice or 1.5 as much to pay as for a normal class) unless you can't handle the pace (scrutiny on you for the WHOLE class, can be pretty tiring) and your teacher agrees for less... Anything is possible, as long as you ask!


However, having read your initial post, I would stress that, even though ALL methods are good, they're not similar (yes, you knew that!) If RAD, Vaganova, Cechetti and French techniques are pretty similar, the Russian 'accent' technique (Vaganova is Russian, but not the same kind... Don't ask, it's complicated)is ok to start with but it won't be easy to 'switch' to another technique if you want to do that later... The foundation/core technique of it is very very far away from the foundation of any other syllabi...


Try it at any rate, but I would advise to combine it with another technique, so that you can compare (but expect to be able to do that with a bit more experience) and take a few elements of each (I mean, for your 'own' version of a syllabus, of course DO exactly what's asked for a particular class!) You will soon see that you relevé on your demie-pointes very differently, that your jaw line doesn't really match within the various syllabus classes...etc... Just make sure you're aware of that, and that you can apply it each time to the syllabus it's aimed at.


And finally, the dress code should be practical. You need to be comfy, but the teacher needs to see your mistakes, so go for something fitted (esp. the bottom half) and whatever you choose in the end, pin your hair back (there is absolutely no advantage to letting them down. You're hot, it's in the way and you look like a wet dog at the end of the class... So, a bun is of course ideal or if hair is too short a mini-ponytail... You'll thank me later biggrin.gif )

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Guest newdancer



Thanks for the reply. Ok, I need to know what everyone is talking about when they refer to RAD? What is RAD and why do people refer to RAD3 and so an so forth. Are these things my teacher will explain in a class? Did you study ballet books and pictues of positions before you started class? And (sorry) do the first classes start of with: first positon, second, and so on?

Thanks! Newdancer smile.gif

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Newdancer, RAD is Royal Academy of Dance, which has it's own syllabus for the teaching of ballet technique. It is a graded syllabus, as is Cecchetti, which is why you see the numbers or words like elementary or intermediate, majors or grades, etc. It's all very complicated. Schools which teach the graded syllabus prepare students for exams, and the syllabus classes are set and repeated classes to perfect the material needed to pass the exam in that level. Not all schools work this way, and even some of the syllabus schools do not teach their adult classes with a view to exams. The method also usually offers "free classes", which means non-syllabus classes with different material.


Balletowoman, I know you said "don't ask", but I'm afraid that I have no idea what you mean by "Russian accent" technique. Can you explain, please? eek.gif

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when I started classes I knew the numbers of the five (six) positions and the words plie and tendu. smile.gif That's it.


The first class with one teacher started with "this is first position, this is second position, this is how you hold your hands in beginning, and now let's see how you should stand". The other teacher just started with "first we'll do plies in first" and showed the combination (very simple) without further explanations. (On the other hand, the first one expects us to remember the words she has explained - the second one doesn't.)


Also, if you join an on-going class you'll probably have less explanations, since some of the people there are more experienced. In my school Beginner I -classes start a new once a year, and that's the best time to join. In some other schools, you just join the classes any time, I've heard.


Nevertheless, have no fear, and certainly don't think you should know everything - or even anything - when you start. It will be awkward in the beginning, but so it is to everyone, and I suppose it's supposed to be - after all, if you already where a most graceful dancer, what would you be in the beginning classes for? smile.gif And your teacher knows you are a beginner, and so does not expect you to know everything.


But once you start, and stick to it, you will learn fast. I started only this September, and I cannot believe what things I can do compared to then, and I'm not particularly athleticly talented. smile.gif Sometimes I even feel graceful and composed in a glissade... sometimes.

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Guest beckster

RAD has a website at www.rad.org.uk if you wanted to find out more about it.


I started adult classes wearing black leggings and a tight t-shirt, hair in a ponytail. I felt silly in pink tights, as though I was pretending to be a dancer. The people in that class wore just about anything from baggy yoga-type trousers through to pink tights. When I switched to syllabus classes with teens I wore pink and black - thats what everyone else wore and I don't even think about it now. You will need ballet shoes right from the beginning though, and I suggest you get pink ones because they will look ok whether you are wearing pink tights or black sweatpants. They aren't too expensive anyway, so not a big investment. smile.gif Best of luck.

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Oh, Victoria, what are you asking? I was afraid someone would... frown.gif


Anyway, I guess I have to explain myself again (having posted in several other forums, the question comes and goes now and then...) Right here goes (you asked, so brace yourself, it'll be a long one... Feel free to move it to a new topic, as I feel it almost deserves one... "Syllabus, syllabi", it's always the title I choose for this one... Proves it's not my first post on the subject biggrin.gif


Right, we have RAD syllabus.. Some people have posted here, and if it needs more explanation, I can explain more, but it's fairly well explained in their web page (127 pages in 'exams and assessment', an Acrobat reader doc but worth the read)

Then, you have other methods (and they are all worth studying, knowing, reading about): Cechetti, again, well explained elsewhere and an established syllabus, so easier to research on...

Then, you have Vaganova, which is one of the 2 ways to teach in Russia.. Once again, internationally renowned technique. (info easily accessible)…


Now, the difficult thing to explain is when there is no 'set syllabus' or a series of exams which is similar wherever you teach the syllabus in the world… So, for example, for the RAD, it's fairly simple to assess what a dancer is worth if she/he says: I'm grade 4 RAD… (feel free to stop me wherever you get lost in my explanation). Indeed, there are (well, I know 2 other major ones, maybe more I'm not aware of):

· the French technique, which doesn't follow any particular syllabus, but which is has 'accent' or a 'French touch' or a 'method' of its own. To summarise it, I would say that it follows -more or less- (if you ask me, much less than more but I would talk about it for ages if I could), the method which is taught in the Opera de Paris. Similar (but not quite the same) is the technique studied in conservatories, which has its own syllabus and exam levels, and ultimately trains dancers to be professional or to train them to enter either the Opera de Paris (but it's an audition anyway) or the CNP (Conservatoire National de Paris.. but it's not the ultimate goal anymore as some say the level has dropped slightly, but I digress…)

· In a similar way, in Russia, another technique (they already have the Vaganova technique there) is the 'Russian' technique, or the 'Russian' accent, or anything you want to call it, but in fact, which doesn't have a name (that's why it's so hard to point the characteristics of this method… Plus it would be too long…. The emphasis is on the top of the body, the pointes are taught differently, usually 'jumping' on them rather than go through a rolling of the foot…etc…. But I'm SO reductive in my description that it doesn't really give it much credit…

I hope anyway that my description starts to open new perspectives for you and that you will want to read more about those (and maybe other… The Italian technique is very little known by me, but I know there are particular traits associated with this country…)

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