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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Opinions please!

jane s

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Well I advised private lessons just to ask what you want to learn and see the details like port de bras and head positions. Not to get the whole technique barre, center work. I mean, I went to that studio 1 hour before class to catch the teacher and kindly force her to teach me the steps a few times but she was not eager to do that either. She said she was tired and she could show them to me during the class but well, she was busy watching others then.


And if I weren't already taking private lessons in another studio I would certainly take notes about which steps I struggle with and ask her if she has an appropriate time to give me 1 hour private lesson each week, just to ask her properly what I couldn't understand. And that cannot be too expensive? Especially if you talk to the administrator and tell her/him about the situation he/she can fix something for you price-wise. Once you learn every little detail you can always exercise on your own (even if conditions are not appropriate you can exercise in the mind level only) and you don't have such a hard time the next time you have to do that step :innocent:

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Well, I plucked up the courage & spoke to her last week, & she said she would think about it but sorting something out was going to be difficult.


Now she has come back to me and she totally understands how I am feeling about not wanting to do a class that is even harder than the one I am struggling in now.


In principle she agreed it would be a good idea for me to move to an easier class if I want to improve my technique since everything will be way over my head in the advanced class.


The problem is the show rehearsals, since no matter what level I move down to they will have only one technique class a week and the other will go to show rehearsals for several months. That would be fine if I was going to be dancing in the show, but I am not.


So she has suggested I do two classes at different levels, one the one I originally asked about moving to, with the girls I know, and another at an even lower level, where I only know one person & they are all pretty young.


I haven't given her an answer yet - technique-wise I know that she is right about what she said, but the kids will think it is so weird for someone to move down that many levels!


Of course, what is wrong is the fact that I was ever put in the harder class in the first place, not that I now want to be in an easier one, because it has really knocked my confidence and my technique has definitely got worse, especially in allegro, because I haven't been able to work on it at all.


I guess I shall have to bite the bullet & just try not to feel self-conscious. Something that makes it worse is that in the kids' levels they all have a uniform & I will stick out like a sore thumb in my black or navy tank leotard (I can't wear what they are wearing as you can't wear a bra with it. And going without is NOT an option for me, unfortunately!)


At least my teacher agreed with my own self-assessment that I am not up to the level of the class I am in now - but even though it was something I already knew, it still hurt a bit to be told that there was no way I would ever be able pass that exam.

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Jane, that really does sound like it's the best solution you've got available to you at the moment - not ideal or perfect, but two classes are better than one! Even if one is much easier than you're used to.


And you never know, after doing a class which knocked your confidence because it was a bit too advanced (oh I think we all know how that feels! :o ) to do a class which you will find technically very doable, could boost your confidence, so that you'll eventually feel able to tackle the harder class.


There's lots of discussion on this forum about doing class with much younger students. A couple of seraches should bring up lots of advice and support. I had a bit of an experience of that in my classes over the summer, which expanded to include a whole lot of syllabus training girls and boys, aged 12 to 15. But you know, they were lovely and once we all got used to each other, we were all quite friendly - I think they liked to have the adults there to do across the floor combinations first, and I especially clicked with the youngest, as we would often go as a pair, and give each other moral support!! Of course, feeling fat and 47 in the presence of thin tall 15 year olds is not easy at first - oh well, you just have to suck it up. It's character building :blushing: It helped that at 15 I was rail thin and so I could look at them and see myself 30 years ago!


<whisper> But I also thought - well, it'll be interesting to see how many of those girls will be doing what I'm doing in 30 years' time.


Crikey I'm turning into a grumpy old woman :D


I hope the new arrangement works out to be more satisfying than at the moment.

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This hardly addresses a major concern, but it seems likely that whatever color they're wearing, you could find a leotard in that color in a style that allows you to wear undergarments, and then at least you'd be in the same color and not stick out as much. Send us the color/a picture of their leos, and your Ballet Talk for Dancers friends will probably search the web high and low trying to help you find one. :D

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Lol, guess what... My situation is kinda solved too :D


Before I could catch the teacher to suggest moving a level down, she caught me and said "Arrive 2 hours earlier before your classes because I have another class with younger students and I want you to watch them", so every Saturday and Sunday I go to the studio 2 hours before my class to watch them. I know it's not the same thing with "doing" the exercises with them but this way I'm also in an advanced class to force my body with full effort while working and I can see every little detail that I couldn't understand while watching the other class. And, I have all the time in the world to take notes about steps and corrections and because I have an eidetic memory, it really works for me (I cannot look in the mirror when it's me who does the steps, and I focus only on "my" movements not others' so I cannot see anything).So I'm pretty contented right now=)

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That's great to hear, Skyish. Next step is to get your teacher's permission to join in with the earlier class!

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Ah I wish they could let me do that without an extra fee, but maybe my teacher could fix something for me if she can see my enthusiasm :D I don't believe in my body nor abilities but I really believe in my ambition and determination; and my teachers seem kinda impressed by them- maybe this teacher would be willing to help me :blushing: I will certainly ask :o

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Hi Skyish,


I'm glad you found something that works for you (not sure that'd work as well for me though as I need to watch MYSELF to know what I am doing!)


The leotards are a very pale pink. Not really my colour as I have a pale complexion anyway. And you don't see many adults' leotards in that colour!


I suppose I will tell her it's OK, & try that arrangement for a term and see how I feel. After all, I can always switch classes again once the show is over.


And another thing that occurs to me is that there was a syllabus change a few years ago, so there will be some new things in the easier class that I actually haven't done before.

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jane, Can't you just wear a wrap top over your bra and leo? Like this one for example? In my opinion if you find something like this in pink, it would be OK.


Maybe you'd think that it makes no difference than wearing another colored leo, but for me it could work :D

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Moving down: Pro's: I will already know all the exercises and can just concentrate on technique; ...


Con's: I will be bored with repeating work I have already done; I will be the only adult; others will regard me as a failure; ...


... Another option would be to take the classes at both levels, but this would involve taking 2 classes on one day with a gap in between, ...


I'm coming late to this thread, and don't know if my experience is any help - but here goes anyhow. Just ignore me if I seem too loony! :ermm:


At the studio I go to (all adult, all ballet...) there are three levels, four if you count level 2.5. Only the top level has any possibility of pointe, and that's 30 minutes once a week. I mention this so you have some idea of where I am - i.e. far below you!


Classes are one quarter at a time. I started at the lowest level of course, being a total beginner. After a year, I tried to step up to the second level, and discovered two important things: 1) I could actually take more than one class a week, and 2) they did not have to be the same level!! So I continued to take at least one total beginner class per week. This summer, after three years, I finally quit taking the lowest level; I now have level 2, 2.5 and 3. In the more advanced class I am clearly the least competent student.


Fortunately one of the first things I learned was the importance of looking incompetent. For one thing, you aren't learning if you already know it. For another, everybody loves an underdog! I was the last person in class to "get" which foot to land on in a grande jete - my teacher made me repeat it while everyone watched, three times! :shrug: ... and I got applause from the whole class when I did get it.


When I quit taking the total beginner class (for those who have never heard of turnout or plies!!) I believe I had been for some quarters the most competent and advanced student. But I felt very clearly that I was still learning fundamental technique as fast as my body was able to absorb it. I may yet go back to that level for a quarter or two, just to get the opportunity to practice elementary details more attentively.


Bottom line: You may "know" the elementary exercises, but if you're like me it is still very rewarding to try to perfect them. Trust me, you won't be bored! Think of yourself as the teacher's assistant, demonstrating for those who are desperately trying to copy somebody who knows what they are doing. If you maintain a learning attitude, nobody will thing you are snobby - and you will be modelling a really essential attitude, which is that you must always be working on the basics. The kids will admire and respect you, even if they have a difficult time showing it. Thet will see that you are better than them, and that you think what they are learning is very important, grown-up stuff!


For what it's worth, I've wound up with classes Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I'm old enough to really need a day between classes for the old joints to recover - it's not ideal, but so far it's better than taking fewer classes!


Well, my two cent's worth ... :wub:

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It sounds like you're studying RAD from various remarks that you have made, or perhaps another syllabus. Could you perhaps tell us what Grades you're talking about? It would help with understanding what level you're at. I often insist on my older beginner students taking a lower level class for strengthening and it does seem to work. I agree with someone who suggested taking the more advanced class in flats and doing the easier class with the pointe work. I must say that I am puzzled as to why technique classes should be replaced by show rehearsals several months before the performance, however if that indeed is the case, then taking classes with multiple levels does seem to be the lesser of all evils! Good luck to you and try not to feel too self conscious - you're doing this for you and that's what's important.

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olddude and others make very good comments.


Personally, over the past 15 years at least, I can't remember a time when I didn't take more than one 'level', with the harder classes providing challenge and hopefully inspiration, and the other classes providing a framework for working with technical integrity that hopefully eventually makes it into the harder lessons.


As Suzanne Farrell said (this may be a paraphrase!) 'plie is the first step you learn, and the last step you master.'

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Olddude, thanks for your comments.


You are right when you say there will always be some work do do even in the easiest class, and yes, I will feel more confident because hopefully I will remember the exercises after a couple of classes.


I'm just feeling squeamish about dancing with 11-year-olds again after being with older teenagers & other adults - but to be honest it probably won't be any more embarrassing than the mess I am making of things at the moment!


Can I just clarify that my problem with being in the higher level is not just because the work is challenging, it is because I don't get any attention from the teacher at all, I am just "marking" at the back while the exam candidates & potentials get all the corrections.


This means that I am "learning" the work with bad technique which remains uncorrected - and I always thought that it was harder to later "unlearn" something than to learn it correctly in the first place.


Hamorah, you're right - it would help if you knew what work I am talking about!


The class I am in now is Cecchetti Intermediate, which means that the harder class I would be moving up to next term is Cecchetti Advanced 1 - if anyone is not familiar with it, it has fiendishly difficult adages & multiple pirouettes in various positions (when I am still struggling with basic singles!) let alone the allegro and pointe work.


The class I can't get to is Grade 6, the one I asked to be moved to was Grade 5, and the teacher now wants me to do 1 x Grade 4 & 1 x Grade 5.


My ballet problems started originally when I skipped Grade 6 (not through my choice) and missed out on learning the technique for a lot of steps, prior knowledge of which is now taken for granted & not explained.


When I was in Grade 4 first time around, the teacher didn't let me do the exam because I was "too borderline", and I still hadn't fully mastered Grade 5 when I got bumped up to Inter Foundation, if that gives you an idea of my (poor) standard.


The show rehearsal thing is a real pain if you're not in it, but yes, it will go on for one-and-a half terms (about 15 classes) - not really that many if you look at it that way. (And I didn't have the option to be in the show, by the way, it's not because I'm not interested in performing!)

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Jane s, the cechetti Intermediate and Advanced 1 syllabi are gorgeous to dance, but I agree, some of those Advanced adages are very difficult! The renversé turn from arabesque finishing a la second sticks in my mind, or the double pirouette from a grande plié, or all those turns from second.


Can you do the Intermediate and the Grade 5? That would give you a "challenge" class and a good basic technique class.


Good luck. If you have to do a syllabus set of classes, I think the Cechhetti syllabus is so lovely and dancey.

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