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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Classes and rehearsals


yankee

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When preparing for performances, how should the number of hours of class time be balanced with the number of hours of rehearsals? Should a dancer always try to have a technique class on each day of a rehearsal (if offered)? With the number of hours of rehearsals increasing before Nutcracker performances (and later, spring and end-of-year performances), I am not sure how to make sure that "so much" doesn't turn into "too much." Aside from helping to ensure proper nutrition and rest, what is done to strike this balance? Rehearsal hours have increased from two to ten at this point.

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I'm not sure there really is a balance that can be reached during the last few rehearsals prior to a show. It builds up, it just does and it is part of the territory.

 

I am sure one of our teachers will answer about class from a professional standpoint. But I will say that I just cringe everytime I have heard of younger dancers warming themselves up prior to rehearsal. I have rarely seen them do a good job of it. That has always worried me so if class is offered, it's best to take it.

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Knock, knock (older dancer...but similar issue).

 

For dd, the week after Thanksgiving will be w/the Company. Basically, I pick her up early from school, she rushes to change, have a snack, and get to the studio. (And her role's en pointe this year :yes: ). So far, she's been able to warm up "enough" she says to be safe. Now...her rehearsal is over at 6:15...and her regular technique/pointe class follows immediately (2 1/2 hours). SHE would like to go on to class, and really, with the roles being triple-cast, she is not dancing 100% of the rehearsal time. BUT that has her at the studio 6 hours each night (hope the homework level's light!) and really precludes any chance to do any real nutritious food until 9 pm. I think we'll just take it day by day...but was curious to hear opinions -- like Yankee, don't want kid to push herself too far as we head into Nuts!! I'd be okay with her missing a class or 2 in the name of sanity...be we ARE talking about these focused, driven dancers here!

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Guest pink tights

Yankee--my dd's youth company has a 1.5 hour class before rehearsals, either in the studio or at the theater. It does add to the amount of time, but I think it's important to be properly warmed up. They spend nearly two weeks rehearsing daily in the theater. By this time, regular classes do not meet, however they take a 1.5 hour class (daily) before rehearsals and performances begin. If they have a matinee and an evening performance, they will have TWO classes! DD will be at the theater approximately 5-6 hours after school for two weeks. I have already informed the teachers, requesting any work that can possibly be done ahead of time be sent home The school has been very understanding--they even agreed to let her start on homework during recess. And yes, I made sure she got her flu shot two weeks ago.

 

To answer your question...I don't think there is a way to balance it all--other than requesting homework ahead of time. My dd will spend the majority of her Thanksgiving break doing school work. Hope this helps.

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Class before rehearsal and/or performance is very important. Often in the theatre it will be a one hour class, but at least that much must be done with all dancers who are at the level of working on pointe on stage. Some of the younger dancers, like party scene, mice, soldiers, usually do not have class, at least in the theatre, simply because there is no time and space for it. But, it is also not nearly as critical for them to have it. The older they get, and the more advanced, the more proper warm up they need! Professional dancers would never do a rehearsal, much less go on stage in performance, without class first.

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Thank you for all of your replies. Hopefully the modified class schedule which is offered during this heavier rehearsal period will help to keep things as close to balanced as possible. This particular company's AD expects all pointe level dancers (ballet 4 + in this case and regardless of whether they have a pointe role or not) to attend the warmup classes with the pro's which will be given at the theater prior to rehearsals and performances in a few weeks. In years past, students below ballet 4 (with the exception of the very youngest cast members) have typically tried to find space somewhere in the theater and have tried to follow the barre portion of the class. This was tough for the kids, like my daughter, who had trouble seeing over the aisle partition at the back of the theater but it was their only option. Maybe some proper warmup is still better than no warmup at all.

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We are very fortunate that the Ohio Theatre has 3 state-of-the-art rehearsal spaces underneath the stage, so we are lucky that we are able to have 2 or 3 separate warm-ups for the differing levels of children cast, and the company uses the stage. But it was not always like that.

 

When I was a child, we had to warm up in the halls where the dressing rooms used to be located in the basement. The floors were carpeted so very little could be done that required any significant movement.

 

As far as balancing the 2, it is quite difficult. When the students are working with a union company, the AD is held to a union schedule which pretty much means the kids are needed when they are needed, class or not. As it gets closer to load-in the rehearsals increase and that can mean some classes fall by the wayside. This is where having an arsenal of simple stretches and warm-ups is crucial, however, I am with Victoria in that if a role is en pointe, there MUST be an official class held prior to rehearsal even if it is only an hour.

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