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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Giving myself class


mayfair1

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I've been taking lots of classes all summer, and I should be able to take some this fall, but right now there are three weeks in which there is no way I can take any classes.

 

I don't think that I can improve on my own, but I'm hoping to give myself class, or at least a full barre, and not lose strength/technique. I know that it's not a good idea for beginners to practice much on their own, but I think it should be okay for me - I've been dancing for a few years, and I'd put my level at advanced beginner or low intermediate, depending on the studio.

 

I plan to give myself a fairly easy class, and only do things I am very familiar with, so as to avoid forming/reinforcing bad habits. I will concentrate on the main corrections I got over the summer. I know that the hardest thing for me will be not skipping the things I don't like or not fully working the second side, but I'm going to try and be as professional with myself as I can.

 

Of course I'll strech, flexibility is the easiest thing to work on on my own.

 

Questions:

Does this sound like a good idea? A fairly easy class to keep up my strength and technique?

Should I just do barre, or should I try and do some center combinations as well? (I remember some from class)

Any other suggestions/advice?

 

Thanks!

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Many teachers have little crib sheets of their barre lesson...it is possible that if you are looking to practice, your teacher might give you the proper combinations.

 

Also, have you considered any of the ballet DVDs? Something like that would provide you with something to ground yourself in. There are some excellent choices out there, I'm sure. That way, you can do a little mini-class based upon something.

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I find that during the breaks, it doesn't matter what I do, as long as I do some sort of exercise and stretching. I often do Jazzercize, and it has actually helped me with ballet. So, you know, anything to keep you in shape cardiovascularly and maybe even build some muscle will help you.

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Aaahhhh, perhaps the adult ballet topic I feel most passionately about—doing your own classes.

 

Ballet is a high physical skill activity that is most efficiently learned when young. In my opinion, the only way an adult can make any kind of significant progress is through repetition—lots of repetition. Unless, you have tons of money for classes and a school where you can take class essentially every day, you are going to have to do things like classes at home if you are going to make significant progress. That is just an indication of the level of skill required to do ballet.

 

You can improve significantly on your own, believe me. In fact, taking responsibility for your learning and development by reading and practicing is just plain fun in my opinion. A weakness in the standard ballet class is that adult students are not given time to internalize steps and movements sufficiently. Class time is fixed and a certain number of exercises have to be performed. That’s just the nature of class. At home, however, you can take as long as you want to internalize whatever you need to internalize.

 

For someone wanting to start home classes, I’d urge recording combinations performed in class. Essentially, you need to create a library of exercises that you will use for home class and those you have done in class are almost always excellent for home class. If you look around, there are also books that have combinations that you can use or modify as you see fit. The important thing is to have a library and pick things from that library.

 

When I first started doing home classes, my library wasn’t big enough to do what I would call a full class. Essentially, I did what I could—barre and center—and I think I spent about 45-60 minutes doing it.

 

The second thing I would urge is to maximize the quality of the work you do. Again, this is something that is very difficult in regular class as so much energy is devoted into just remembering the ^&%$ combination. At home, if you are reusing combinations, it’s not so hard remembering them. By quality, I mean maximizing work on the technical. Have an aim for each exercise (what is its purpose? What technical points have I heard in class related to this exercise?). Repeat the combinations where you had difficulty. If there are things in class that give you trouble, spend a little more time on those.

 

My last piece of advice has to do with the number of home classes you can do without benefit of a regular class. I found I could do about 4-5 at most. After that, I found the quality of my home classes starting to degenerate. You really do need to mix home and regular classes in my opinion. For things like summer vacation, I’d do a few home classes, but more often just did general exercise and what I call ballet basics, which is entirely a different topic.

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Thanks for the ideas everyone - I really appreciate it. And Garyecht, I've read your posts about ballet basics before, and I'm definitely going to be doing something like that during the break, and hopefully more often in general, now that I'll be taking less classes.

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This is a somewhat silly question, but where do you do your home exercises? The apartment I live in is carpeted and ballet shoes and carpet don't seem to mix very well.

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I've been practicing ballet at home since I first began taking classes. I was put into a class that was higher than my capabilities at the time and I had to act quick to catch up. It just so happened that we were remodelling our livingroom at the time and pulling up the carpet. I had a perfect small studio sized livingroom with wood floors and no furniture in which to practice. Though we've since refinished the room, half of it was left as my practice space. I think having a place to practice has helped tremendously and I reccommend it to anyone who can find a place to do it. Sometimes you could even practice in a gym if there is one near your home. Of course, barre exercise takes on a new dimension with no barre...but it does wonders for your balance if you can do it w/out one, which is the ultimate goal in ballet, isn't it? Ever tried petit battements or frappe' with nothing to hold onto? Killer!

 

So, Mayfair1, I'd say go for it. :grinning:

 

Candi

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I can do mine in the kitchen, because it has a linoleum floor. Ballet shoes or socks work quite well. There are also a few rooms at the gym I can use. Carpet just doesn't work for me.

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