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Home Exercises to end the confusion!

Guest erindezeeuw

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Guest erindezeeuw

Hi, I've been taking ballet for about a month now . . . I gave myself positionary vertigo somehow after just a few lessons, but have recovered and went back to class last night.

I've been thinking that if there were some sort of barre video, either for the TV or computer, I could do at least once a day, it would help immensely. I feel so lost in class, and I think it's mainly because I can't associate these French words with my body movements yet. I'd like to not be following the girl in front of me all the time, because I don't imagine she's always correct.


I'm sure such things exist and I could find several, but does anyone know of one they particularly liked?


Also, I am having a real problem with the things where you kind of "swing" your leg from front to back (for lack of a better way of putting it). My teacher says you should see first position when you pass your other foot, okay, I understand that, but once I go BACK, it's like my foot doesn't have enough "clearance" off the ground to stay pointed. I basically have to drag my foot on the ground for a second. What is going on and how can I correct it? (Edit: I found the name of this on ABT's dictionary. It's Grand Battement.)


And one more, I'm finding that with any exercise where we extend to the back, I can't get the leg up high at all. Front and side I am confident I will be able to work on, but the back is so tight. Are there exercises that would help this specifically?


Sorry for the multi-question post, figured it was better than shooting off three seperate ones. :blushing:

Edited by erindezeeuw
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Guest milky

Hi Erindezeeuw! Congratulations on returning to class!


Well, I don't know of any videos, but I can't say enough good things about the book Classical Ballet Technique by Gretchen Ward Warren. It's massive, with excellent photos. You can get it from Amazon, although I've been lucky enough to get mine from the local library and keep renewing it for months! :blushing: (Surely someone else will request it eventually...) I found it really helpful for looking things up when I get home from class.


I don't have much good advice on the other two, except that practice really does help. I'm sure someone else here will be able to point you in the right direction.

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Hello erindezeeuw, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers :blushing:


You have not had enough training yet to work on your own. The most important thing right now is more classes, and be very sure that you are attending the best school you can find. You really cannot learn ballet from a video. You need a teacher to show you and to help you, especially when you still need to learn all the basics! Books would be more helpful than video classes right now, and I strongly second milky's recommendation for Classical Ballet Technique by Gretchen Ward Warren.


As to the arabesque problem, you probably have not yet learned how to lift up out of your hips all the time, and to adjust your body weight forward and upward for extensions to the back. Ask your teacher to help you with this.


In battement en cloche, or battement balancoire, where the leg passes through first from front to back and back to front, you have to be very lifted out of the supporting leg for the working leg to pass through straight and rotated.

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Guest erindezeeuw

Thank you for the quick responses.

I found the ABT's video dictionary and I already feel more familiar with what things are called. If I study it for a while maybe I will feel more comfortable.

Also, I am lucky enough to work in a costume/dancewear shop where my boss is an excellent ballet teacher. Sadly she doesn't teach adults anymore, but occasionally she'll ask me to do something and give me little corrections.

I suppose I am trying to progress faster because I am hoping to go to Richmond SI next summer. :blushing:

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I get the impression from your post that you are in a "beginner" class that is meant for those who have "beginner level ability" but not geared towards true, actual beginners. If so, don't be intimidated by being confused and just keep on working. No one in their sane mind can expect you to be able to do all the movements in a standard class, even an easy one, after just a couple of weeks of classes. :) I needed a dictionary and much reading even in a true beginner course to make any sense of it.


(Pet peeve alert...)


While I realize that it is not possible, I think everyone who starts ballet should ideally start on a true beginner course, where positions and movements would be introduced one at a time, with proper names and clear explanations as to why and how they are done... ballet is difficult enough started like that! Trying to follow a full barre without having had the movements explained to you must be really confusing (I'm glad I have never had to try.)


I am sure this does not help in this specific situation, but I would like to just take the opportunity to encourage all adult ballet beginners to ask their schools and teachers for such courses - even if you know they are not available right now. If adult student keep the pressure on, maybe they realize there might be a demand. :angry:

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Dont hesitate to ask your teacher after class (or before if you have questions). I found that a lot of teachers are happily willing to explain certain steps to their students after class. When you do it right in class you will make the teacher happy too.


Just keep in mind that learning ballet takes time.

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With one tiny exception, I very much concur with Victoria, especially the notion of taking more classes and the idea that you don’t yet know enough to really practice on your own.


I would suggest that you begin a class diary, however. Get a little notebook and make each page your documentation of a class. Draw a line right down the middle of the page. On the left side, write down every combination you can remember. Do it with the musical counts if you can. Use the French terms if you can remember them, otherwise make up your own until you learn the terms. Recording combinations I believe is the best way to learn how to remember them. You learn their structure and have a chance to think about exactly what you were doing.


On the right side of your line, write down every correction you can remember the teacher making in class.


Do all of your recording immediately after class. At first, you won’t remember much (at least I didn’t), but that is fine. Over time, you will remember more and more until after several years you will remember every combination and every correction. At first, I’d concentrate only on barre exercises and perhaps the first center exercises, those you find easiest.


I do disagree with Victoria a little in that I do think there are some things you can practice on your own. As a beginner, however, your practice might amount to only a couple of minutes. I would try as best I could to repeat the combinations you recorded. Yes, you undoubtedly will make many technical mistakes in doing them, but it is very difficult to fix yourself technically when you don’t know where your feet and arms are supposed to go. I would also spend some time with the teacher corrections you wrote down. Try to internalize them by trying to feel the correction as best you can. By trying to practice corrections, your body will become more sensitive to them over the long haul.


If you want to practice more than just a few minutes, fill the time with stretches—almost anything will do at your stage of development.

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Guest erindezeeuw

My class is definitely as you described . . . the other "beginners" have years of other types of dance under their belts, or are girls from the more advanced classes who are just taking it for placement, I think. There are a few who might be beginners, but I think are studio moms, who have at least been exposed for a long time.


The first day of "jumping into" barre was a little overwhelming!


Since I've had NO previous dance training whatsoever, I think one of my issues is that I've been seeing the combinations as long, continuous movement, and having trouble breaking them down into the steps . . . since I don't know them yet!


I don't know if we're even allowed to ask questions during class, since I don't think I've seen anyone speak unless addressed by the teacher . . . but why would the other girls need to ask questions, I suppose? Maybe before class tonight, I'll ask the teacher what I can do if I have a question during class, and she'll let me know protocol. :angry:


I'm thinking of taking a few private lessons to try and get me "up to speed".


I would very much like to take more classes . . . but I don't think there are any more available to me. Maybe I could go in with the little little girls . . . that would be interesting.


I wish that I could tell my teacher somehow that I am serious about improving as an adult, without sounding like I want to go "pro". I want her to know that I'm not just doing this for fun or exercise, and that I want correction . . . but I don't want to offend her or disrupt the order of the class.


Thank you for your idea, Garyecht. I will try to do that after class tonight.

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Ask your teacher a brief question after class, or make a point to thank him or her and tell them how much you're enjoying this class and learning a lot. Whatever you want to say. It won't disrupt the flow of the class if you chat afterward and it'll show that you're "engaged" in the process. Your teacher will correct you ... he or she probably just doesn't want to overwhelm you right away since you're new to this. All a teacher wants to see is that you try, stay positive, and you show up to all the classes. The corrections will come once they see that you always show up. Your work and concentration in class will show that you're serious about improving.


The Gretchen Ward Warren book is awesome. I use it all the time as a reference and I've been dancing since I was a kid. The beautiful thing about ballet is that you never stop learning and trying to improve. The very top professionals still take class every day, still mess up, still try and get better. Everyone wants to improve (and can!), no matter what level you're at. It never gets boring. Have fun!


A few private lessons would probably really help you get up to speed. Your teacher will know you're serious if you ask for privates.

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One more suggestion. . . there's a book from the Joffreu Ballet School -- my copy is buried, maybe someone else can provide the exact title -- designed for adult beginner beginners that is both reassuring and helpful. I found it invaluable when I was first starting.

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Guest milky

Oh, I know that one - it's _The Joffrey Ballet School's Ballet-Fit_. (Also courtesy of my library!) :wacko: It's a great one to get from the library, since it's got a lot of "hand-holding" for your first month or so. I think that the second half of it was more of a workout, though...

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Guest erindezeeuw

Thank you everyone!

Class yesterday was sparsely attended and I felt more comfortable asking questions. They were actually well received, and I feel a lot better now.

Also, the ABT video dictionary paid off. We did pirouette pique across the floor, and I nailed every one, which is huge for me, since it usually takes me 3 or 4 to figure out which foot to be on. :D

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One video that I really like to do to keep me in shape in between classes is the New York City Ballet workout. If you just do the floor portion, it will help you with turning out your legs, back strength, and leg strength. The ballet part which is done standing up you should wait until later to try, or you'll develop bad habits. But the floor exercises are very helpful. I got mine from eBay.

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