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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How often do you attend class?


Guest TenduGuy

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Guest TenduGuy

Hi everyone,

 

I'm a ballet beginner and have been taking classes for about a year and a half now (I'm 28 years old). I began with a weekly group class that met for about a month, then after a couple of months off I joined a small group class once a week for about six months. Because of crazy work schedules (life in general, etc.), I'm now down to one hour of private instruction a month. I would like to increase my activity (I'm forgetting alot, and having to spend time catching up every lesson), but I want to see how often other adult beginners attend class.

 

Also, If time permits I would like to join another group class soon. However, my instructor (for private lessons) does not have any open classes that fit into my schedule. Is it disrespectful to sign up for another teacher's class at a different studio?

 

Sorry for all the questions, I'm still new to the ballet world....Thanks for any help!

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hi TenduGuy...Welcome!

 

You are going to get responses that range from one class per week to 5 or 6 per week. It depends on what we adults can fit in.

 

Because you are an adult, surely your current teacher will understand your scheduling difficulties and not begrudge you the opportunity to take more than just one class per month. I don't know anyone who is going to think that once a month is sufficient to see improvement.

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When I was a first year beginner, I took two classes a week and spent one day practicing everything I could remember from the classes I had. I can’t remember exactly how long I spent practicing, but think it was about an hour.

 

Though privates are standard in the ballroom world, I’ve never had a private ballet class. I would assume that a once a month private would be a good thing for a beginner, though in my opinion improvement comes from lots of repetition remembering what your teacher is emphasizing in class.

 

My formula for a first year ballet student is: 2 classes/week + 1 day at home practice + (Pilates or yoga class) + daily stretching.

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Hi TenduGuy,

 

I don't have anything to add about the number of classes per week, but I think you're definitely missing out if you only have private lessons. There's so much to learn from watching other people, hearing their corrections, noting what it is that they might be doing wrong too and why. I can't imagine that any decent teacher would rather you had only one class a month than joined another class and got all these extra benefits into the bargain. But I imagine it would be polite to explain that your schedule prevents you joining any of their classes, and maybe ask their opinion on the other classes you're attending.

 

R

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I think I took two classes of 60 min a week during my first year, then 3-4 the next one, then 3-4 90 mins classes when I got to the level where they are offered in my school. Once a month sounds very little for me! I don't think I could remember anything after a month's break. But maybe that's just my stupidity...

 

Gary, not to be contradictory, but in my experience generally teachers tend to advice beginners not to practice the stuff from class at home. They recommend strengthening excercises and stretching, but not actual class work.

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I take class once a week (1.5 hours). Just can't fit in more. Progression is very slow, but it does happen. (It took forever to find my balance in center ...) I can't imagine that anything less than once a week will do much good.

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My school only offers two classes a week for adults except during a break from their regular schedule in May. Then we can have up to 4 classes each week for 4 weeks.

It is possible to go to another school in the area for more classes; even a total beginner class, but there is some time conflict for the others and then one must figure out how to pay for more and come up with the time as well.

We all do some kind of balancing act with our class time as adults. I have heard there are some here on the boards who can only get one class a week. That is just not enough.

 

Laschwen

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Guest pink tights

No Tenduguy, it is not disrespectful to take class from another teacher. We adults have to go where and when we can. Also, it's a good idea to gradually add class--don't jump into 5 classes a week! You will only end up injured! Try a class or two for a semester and build from there. I'm with Jaana on the practicing at home part--easy to settle into bad habits when no one is around to offer correction...

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Jaana—

 

I’ll agree with you that many teachers recommend that beginning students not practice outside of class. Their reasoning is that beginners are most likely to practice a movement incorrectly and that such practice will develop incorrect motor pathways and that these pathways will later be more difficult to change to appropriate ones.

 

Poppycock. There is zero evidence that this occurs and further the reasoning behind it is contradictory. It is virtually impossible to learn a complex motor skill without making errors, usually many many errors. Repetition is the only way you learn, period.

 

Now, if you can take 5 or so beginner classes a week, that’s wonderful and you have no need for practice outside of class. But for the vast majority of adult beginners that is infeasible, so you have to go to the next best thing which is a combination of class and practice.

 

Because beginners are largely ignorant of ballet technique, their initial practices will necessarily be brief. And their knowledge base is limited to what they learned and did in class. So home practice consists of repeating what the student can remember (usually not much) from class. For the very beginner that probably only amounts to specific movements and not even a combination. Total practice time is likely to be about 15 minutes at first. But with time, experience and knowledge, that time lengthens.

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Guest pink tights

But Gary, how does the adult beginner know if they are doing something wrong...sickled feet, alignment, and so on? If you are repeating the movement over and over the wrong way, without realizing it, you will develop bad habits if not injure yourself. I'm all for gentle stretching between classes, but that's about it.

Edited by pink tights
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I take 5 regular classes a week (time ranges from an hour and a half to two hours) and sometimes a 6th as a makeup class is being offered for company members who have missed regular classes. Not that I've missed any, but since I'm paying full price I'm entitled to whatever they are, so sometimes I'll go if I have any extra energy.

 

I don't think it is disrespectful to take from another teacher or studio. The only problem that I've encountered is most of the places where I live are "competition schools", otherwise known as dolly dinkles. There is a huge amount of competition between the schools, obviously, and the teachers really don't like hearing that you are going to so and so's school because you can't make their classes. Once I started taking at the regional ballet company, they despise all competition schools and with good reason...........it is TOTALLY different dancing. I'm learning real classical ballet technique and am having to untrain my body from a lot of bad habits.

 

So if you are going to take from another school, you may want to poke around beforehand and make sure there is no animosity between the schools. If there is, I personally wouldn't say anything to either teacher and just go about my business. If they are on friendly terms then I would most certainly let both of them know and that you are taking from both schools because of scheduling difficulties.

 

=)

WM

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Welcome, TenduGuy, to both ballet and Ballet Alert. I've never been an adult beginner, but have subbed a few classes in the past and observed many go thru the process. Most studios will offer 2 classes a week for beginners of an hr or 1.5hr. It is felt by many that this is the minimum one could take and still retain enough mental and physical memory of what was learned to advance. One thing that helps outside of class is remembering what it feels like to be well aligned and using that feeling while you are walking, standing, or sitting. Have your teacher make sure you are correctly aligned before trying this at home. Stretches are wonderful, just make sure you are warm before doing anything more than a gentle stretch. Go slowly with adding classes, as Pink Tights mentioned, and make sure to cool down after class, and drink plenty of water throughout the day. It may help to look through books with stretches or to ask your teacher about some you can do before or after class. If you do a search in the Book forum or even this one, you will find threads where we have discussed books and shared recommendations. I'll try to find these for you later, as it is before breakfast time for me right now. Good luck in finding another good teacher, and keep the private if you can, it's nice to get so much attention, and this teacher knows a bit about how you move already and can help with anything else you work on.

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I've only barely just begun to take classes, but to take more than one class a week I will have to take from more than one teacher (more than one studio, in fact). So eventually, that is what I will do. For now, I have one 90 minute class per week.

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Pinktights—

 

I will show you the inherent contradiction in the argument. Suppose that your thought is correct that by doing a movement incorrectly you develop motor pathways that result in difficulty doing the correct movement. Suppose you are teaching absolute beginners. You ask your class to do tendus. They make mistakes. You offer corrections, but mistakes are still made. If you accept your premise, you as the teacher will keep correcting and repeating until they do perfect tendus, but with every repetition your students will be developing the incorrect motor pathways. That is the contradiction that shows the fallacy of the premise.

 

When learning complex physical skills, unless one is supremely gifted, mistakes will be made. Were it otherwise, the skill would not be complex. But physical skill is only developed through repetition. Hence, one is left with the choice of attempting the skill, though done while making errors, or never attempting the skill at all.

 

How do beginners know they are doing something wrong? Clearly by going to class. But you as a teacher cannot correct every single error in every single student in every single class. People learn by iteration—hearing what they are supposed to do, trying it out, hearing again, trying again, and so on for quite a long time.

 

We as experienced students get and want corrections. But that doesn’t mean that we as students have wasted our time and made it more difficult by doing the incorrect movement. Here is an example. I had learned to do a reasonable tendu in ballet class after a few years. I then started taking modern and was asked to do a tendu in parallel. Now, from the modern, parallel feet point of view, all those turned out tendus I had done were incorrect. If one accepts the premise, then logically I should have had great difficulty doing parallel tendus. But of course I didn’t and assumed that my parallel tendus were pretty much as good as my turned out tendus on that first try.

 

My final word is that the basis for beginner home practice is extremely small, only things that are mentioned in class, so beginners are really only working with what the teacher has given them. It is simple homework.

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