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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Progress...How Do You Know?


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How do you know how quickly you are progressing? It isn't hard to compare yourself to one small class...but in terms of a comparison to a teacher's history of students, where do you fall?


Perhaps you are slow comparitively, perhaps fast, perhaps average.


Also, how does your technique rate?


Are these appropriate things to ask your instructor? Is there a gauge or scale out there somewhere to grade yourself by?

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My first thought is, how would having that information help you, other than being a nice ego boost, or a bummer? After all, we are already trying to be our best.


I think the more ballet exposure you can acquire, the more you are able to gauge your own progress and facility. Going to professional performances helps, and provides nice inspiration. (My schooling was Russian, pretty old-fashioned, but I just saw ABT perform Mark Morris's Gong, and now I would love to try more contemporary styles.)

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For me, it would be more of a "am I on the right track or do I need to work harder" type of confirmation.

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That makes sense. I would ask your teacher if there are particular areas you could work on. Thinking about this question in the first place seems like a good sign that you are working hard—the lazy don't question themselves. :)

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There are RAD classes....which is a graded style syllabus where you have to take an exam to move to the next level. Its a nice idea but unfortunetly they dont give RAD classes for adults in the US.....at least not that I know of. Your level is where you are most comfortable but still somewhat challeged. The rate of progression has to do with how often you take class, how much you practice outside of class and how much you work on what you really need to work on. And of course your natural ability and talent and how much you really want to improve. And yes, I believe that a good teacher knows where you fall. If you REALLY want to know just ask her. But its also a one answer question and she might not be as honest as you would like her to be. The fact of the matter is that deep down you know how you compare to others. If you dont, then take a class a level up from your own and see how you do.

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You could ask your teacher for appropriate goals for the semester/year - e.g. "By next Christmas I will (should) be able to..."

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I just take it class by class. I think as an adult dancer - even though I take the study of ballet very seriously - that's all I can do (I know it's different for others). I don't really stress outside of class about my failings in class - although I mentally review combinations, or think of technical coaching and corrections I've had, and stand constantly in first or fourth!


But I love class, and really don't have much interest in performing - and never had even when I was younger & it was more of a realistic possibility. Without a performing career, I'm not qualified to teach, as far as I'm concerned, so I don't have that goal either. I don't think I really have goals beyond doing each class as well as I can. I just love the discipline and ritual of class, and the sense that in each class I am challenged, and then I reflect on how I met those challenges. I guess I just enjoy learning in that way, and I don't worry about measuring my progress - I'm pleased if I get a petit allegro combination feeling right, or do nice doubles in all the pirouette combinations, or whatever. I can tell that I am making progress, even if it's just that I remember combinations better than usual (that's my particular challenge!)


But for me, although I take class very seriously when I'm there, and give up other things to get to class, I do it primarily because I enjoy it and I have fun. Not necessarily laugh out loud fun (although I do sometimes do a little hoot for myself if I get something well!) but I enjoy the dancing. But I'm very lucky - I've achieved a lot, and have lots more to look forward to in my life outside the studio - I love my job, which is my real vocation.

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