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Ballet Talk for Dancers

About to begin ballet again, worried about level

Guest plain-dancer

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Guest plain-dancer

Hello hello. I'm so glad that I've finally got the registration right. I couldn't figure out what was wrong for the longest time.


I'm very very happy to be starting ballet again. I danced as a little girl in Canada but when my family moved out to the country I had to stop, and it broke my heart. Then we moved to the states when I was a teenager, but we were poor for so long that I didn't dance again until the age of 18. The I started going to a "Dolly Dinkle" type school for a year, :) and then I went to college, where for a year I danced maybe once a week at an "adult ballet class" in a fairly good all purpose yoga/ballet/jazz studio.


Well long story short, it's almost 3 years later, and now I'm 22. I'm going to start work-study at the Jose Mateo Ballet theatre in Cambridge, MA. (tonight!) I'm thrilled, but feeling pretty anxious. I bought new tights, etc, and though I'm not fat at all in street clothes, I look like a terror in these tights. Wah. Luckily I have a little black dance-skirt that can be my crutch for a little while. I am also worried about where I "placed" myself. They have two "Beginning ballet" courses, "Beginner I", taught on Thursdays, and "Beginner II", taught on Tuesdays. They also have a "Elementary" Adult Beginner open class three days a week. I talked to someone there who said I should go to the II course if I knew *anything* at all about ballet, so I made my workstudy night Thursday, intending to go Tuesday night, as well as to all of the Elementary classes. (That would make 4 a week).


Well, after making the work-study arrangements with the admin people, I talked to the Beginner and Elementary teacher. She seemed to think, from my description, that I'd actually be better in the Beginner I course, and that Elementary was probably too hard. When I explained my work study shift she said "okay, then, start in Beginner II and after that (8 weeks) we'll see if you can handle Elementary".


The only thing that troubles me is that if Elementary is out for me, this means I can only take 1 class a week. What's frustrating is that I need more than 1 class to get to the level where I can take more than 1 class.


I earn 3 classes every shift, so I think what I will do is just attend my one free class (Beginner II) at Jose Mateo, and save up the rest of my free classes until I can take the almost daily Elementary. In the meantime, I can scrimp and attend other classes in other studios. Does this sound like a good plan? I know every teacher is different, but I expect on a basic level (I know about the positions, and plie, releve but that's about it, I've forgotten the rest) maybe the drawback of difference in instruction is outweighed by increased frequency of class?


These are the local classes that fit my schedule. I can probably afford to take three a week, in addition to the one free Jose Mateo class. Which would you choose? All 3 floor barres? A floor barre and the two Dance-complex classes? etc.


Jose Mateo:

Tuesday Intro to Ballet II 6:00 – 7:30 pm


Fresh Pond:

Monday: Adult Intro Open Ballet 7:45—9:00 pm $12


Dance Complex:

Sunday Adv. Beginner Ballet: 1:00—2:00 pm $12

Monday Adv. Beginner Ballet: 6:00—7:30 pm $12


Green Street:

Wednesday Floor Barre 8:30—9:30 am $10

Friday Floor Barre 8:30—9:30 am $10

Saturday Floor Barre 10:00—11:00 am $10



Thanks for reading this whole long post. I'm so excited to have found this place.


(Edited ebcause I forgot the class list! Bah!) :grinning:

Edited by plain-dancer
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The only thing that troubles me is that if Elementary is out for me, this means I can only take 1 class a week.  What's frustrating is that I need more than 1 class to get to the level where I can take more than 1 class.


Hi, welcome to ballet talk!


Well, if you're just now getting back into ballet again I don't think it a bad idea to start out with taking only one class a week. Even if you were physically fit by regular standards if you haven't taken regular ballet classes you'll have some muscles that will not be used to the regular use that three classes a week will be giving them. Starting slowly will then avoid any injuries that could slow up your progress more than taking only one class weekly will. Then you'll be able to add more classes as you become more fit, especially if your studio schedule begins new classes on a quarterly basis.


I know it's exciting and fun starting ballet again. But consider how frustrating it would be to sit out the classes you already paid for because you overdid it in the beginning! :grinning:


A good alternative could be taking other exercise classes that are complimentary to ballet, like pilates. Or even more economical, borrow or rent some home pilates tapes and exercise on your own. It may not be as much fun as taking the ballet classes but you could think of it as an investment in the enjoyment you'll have when you add that second or third class several months down the road.


Good luck! :)



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I started back at ballet almost three years ago after 6 years off. I was at an Upper"ish" Intermediate level when I stopped. I had the body of a beginner when I started again :blushing: .


I started with one class per week but discovered that I needed more than that for my body to get used to moving at all. In my opinion, two classes spread out during the week would be ideal for the first couple of months. Then three for a while. You just get SO sore and stiff with 6 whole days between classes, unless you're doing something else, like Yoga or Pilates.


Definitely no more than three for several months though. That would be over-doing it.

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Guest plain-dancer

Thanks so much for the advice. Would you conside floor barre a "ballet" class (to be included in the "no more than three" or would you consider it an "other" class, like yoga or pilates?

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Everybody's body is different, and you should be able to sense whether or not you're doing too much. The floor barre I was taking was very tough (much tougher on the body than a ballet class), but other classes are easier...more placement-related.


If you've been sedentary for while (I was) i think any more than three classes a week of anything will be too much. But again, everyone's different. Maybe two classes plus an "extra" like floor barre, pilates, or Yoga would be good for a bit.

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Hi plain dancer,


It's Eun Hee! I am so glad to know that you are a fellow late re-starter.

My class is pretty fast-paced-I wouldn't call it a true beginnig level class. We learned many different things on the first day. I liked it because this gives me something to practice with at home. But I guess for people with not much preparation of previous experience, it would have been pretty overwhelming.


For me the hardest thing now is to lift my legs to a desired position as in developpe and battement. I have found out that my muscles are almost useless except for walking :-) So I am practicing that every night to build strength. My legs are sore, but with practice, I guess the soreness will soon go away.


And don't ever worry about your figure. I am sure you look beautiful even without your skirt. And ballet is going to make you look even more beautiful very very soon!




Eun Hee

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Guest plain-dancer

What a sweet post! You made me smile.


I did my first work-study shift tonight and was able to spend most of it observing the intermediate class. The teacher was so beautiful, and moved like a dream. It was a large class of almost 30 students from perfect-looking 14 year olds to sturdy 50 year-olds. It was inspiring to see all these different bodies doing things that I can still hardly imagine asking of my own. I'm in pretty decent shape, lots and lots of walking and lots of hiking, but obviously I don't have all the little particular muscles needed for ballet. Just sitting in was humbling.


One lady was the sweetest thing. She was in her late 40s and came over to me during a pause in the class and told me that she was a beginner too and I shouldn't be afraid to come to this class and just do the barre. She was very warm and encouraging. She's been dancing for 5 years. I told her thanks but I can't imagine even 10 minutes of the complicated combinations they were doing.


Still, it made me all twitchy to start again. Tomorrow morning I'll try the floor barre and see how it is. I hope I'm not entirely lost! :wacko:

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Plain-dancer, Lampwick has a point about going so long between classes during the same week, six days is a stretch. If I remember correctly, I was doing quite a bit of other physical activities when I first started ballet so one class was all my body could handle until I got specifically stronger. You'll know if it's too much for you.


About being afraid of being lost in class, I bet that in a very short time you'll be dancing as gracefully and beautifully as you saw in the intermediate class. Something in the eloquent manner in which you described that class makes me think that you are not only someone who will learn to dance the steps but someone who'll be able to feel and express them as well. That is a very unique and rare quality among true "ballerinas" and something about yourself worth appreciating.


Of course, you'll have to do something about that " twitchy" thing... :wub: Sorry, couldn't resist the humorous image.



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Guest plain-dancer

Thanks, Candi! That makes me glow. This is something I've wanted for such a long time, since the days 10-year-old me used to read the Encyclopedia Britannica "Ballet" entry every day and sigh.


Actually, I really was twitching! All my feet and leg muscles were like "me too! me too!"


Floor Barre class today was EXCELLENT! :dizzy: I wasn't completely lost, though I had a sense I wasn't doing anything *quite* right. The teacher was very welcoming, gentle and funy. He gave me two small corrections. Otherwise he was very hands-on with everyone. He told me after class that he'd let me try to figure things out on my own for a little while before he got too big on the corrections, which I think is lovely. It was difficult, but at the end of class I didn't feel exhaused - I felt long and glowy and relaxed. I couldn't believe it was only 9:30 am and I'd already done so much. I could definately do this class multiple times a week, no problem. Oof, I feel so good right now I can hardly focus on work. :D

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Yeah, but we want to hear how you feel TOMORROW! :dizzy:


Ballet has the same relaxing effect on me, too. That is, only if I let the perfectionistic side of me let go so I don't over analyze everything I did in class and what mistakes I made. The truth of it it is, I will forever, for the rest of my life, MAKE MISTAKES. I better become friends with that fact now if I'm to enjoy my ballet career (recreational).


Of course, I don't mean that I should never look back to see what I need. I just think there is a balance and my effort to improve shouldn't get in the way of my enjoyment of the practice. Believe me, sometimes I way over analyze instead of just BE. And then nothing is fun anymore.


Wow, I sound like a psychiatrist today, which I most definitely am not!


Tell us how you are tomorrow, would you? I'll try really, really hard not to chuckle at you, I promise. :D



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Guest plain-dancer

Start chuckling - I'm already feeliong it in my behind :wacko: . If my boyfriend can do without me, I'll go again tomorrow, though, stiff and achy or not. I find more movement (hair of the dog!) is the onl;y thing that helps with these ouchies. :green:

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Oh, I can see it now. You'll be asking your boyfriend to join class with you before too long.


By the way, my doctor husband thinks drinking lots of water after class also helps alleviate the aches and pain. It works for me.


Speaking of aches and pains, I'm a humorous sight to see in the morning after a strenuous ballet class. I grab each projecting handhold with a death grip and inch down each step so gingerly...the bottom looks so very far, far away...Within the hour and after my morning coffee I'm just fine. I even have no problem with taking another class that same day, so I agree, more movement does help. But I dread the mornings this winter when it gets cold! I'll be able to hear myself crackle all the way down the steps like the ice outside my window! Looking at me then, who would ever know that I can dance ballet on pointe?


Wow! I'm sounding so old!



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Guest plain-dancer

Hee. Your whole post made me giggle. I can just envision you creeping down the stairs (probably because I was doing it myself yesterday morning!)


Well, I came down with a cold, so I have not gone back, I've just been hiding underblanket drinking ginger ale. But yes, I've been wincing my way around. Next class is on Weds, I'll be trying to do some stretching between now and then. I drank a litre of water after class (!!!) so I'd hate to think how stiff I'd be if I hadn't!

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Hi plain-dancer,


It was so interesting to see your post, because I was there in that intermediate class at the Jose Mateo last Thursday! :D It was a wonderful class, wasn't it? I started ballet from a beginner level about 4 years ago, and now I am taking various classes from advanced beginner level to intermediate level. I thought I could recommend you a couple of classes in Boston, because I've tried so many different classes in this city past 4 years, and finally settled down for the best combinations of classes for me- 4-5 classes a week in 3 different studios. (Yes, I'm a total ballet addict :blushing: )


I owe a big part of my improvement to my first ballet teacher, Susan Alt at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (CCAE). She has a class on Monday evening (7:30pm) which is for a complete beginner. You can build up a tremendous amount of strength because of her unique style. Her combinations are usually simple but she pursues perfection in every movement. She would push and push until you collapse on the floor!! :P She has more than 30 years of experiences with adult ballet students and knows exactly how to push for more but at the same time encourage and compliment even for a slightest improvement. Check out http://www.ccae.org. She also has classes on Saturday at the Huron ave studio - both beginner and intermediate levels. The only downside of CCAE classes is that they are more expensive than the ones in other studios - but totally worth every penny of it in my opinion!


At the Dance Complex, Liz Lapuh's classes are super great!! But from your explanation of your level, I think you may find the Sunday's class a bit overwelming if you try it now. I would recommend you to try Thursday 5:30pm beginner class first, and then try advanced beginner classes. Her regular accompanists (for advanced beginner level and up) are the world-best!! Just listening to their music soothes me more than anything in the world, and moving to their music is an experience of heaven on earth!


Feel free to ask me more if you have any questions. Good luck!!! :D

Edited by bandee
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