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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Day 1, Level 1 Adult class


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I just visited a different than usual school's level one beginner class.


Before class started I was watching the teen class in another studio. The tallest girl was dancing front and center. It is just a personal thing, but I love that. I would go straight to the front myself but I fear blocking peoples view with my height/size. It just looks too rude; even when nobody else is heading to the front. The only times I've done that were when teachers call for line switching, and in Tap class when I couldn't hear the teacher otherwise. Then I was front and side.



Monday night I expected something like my first day in beginner ballet when I was 16. Apparently I had it amazingly good back then. Not that this class was bad:

If I think of the class I have been going to, a beginner's first day would be like jumping into the deep end of the pool with little to no swimming experience.

My high school class walked us down the steps into the shallow end.

This class was more like a jump into the shallow end. It is, however, still the shallow end.


Terms I remember being introduced to one by one, came in groups.

In high school I remember being taught the first 5 positions in detail while in center before going to the barre for the first time. Teacher preference???

That high school teacher went over placement for each part of the body in each position and transitions from one to the next, proper posture, and probably lots of stuff I don't recall. I know everybody's arms were nearly falling off while we tried to hold them in second while the teacher went around correcting everybody. There were about 30 students.

Monday night, we were at the barre and told to just go to first position and so on. There was help for the brand new students, but rather like the"monkey see" method. There were a couple of other experienced beginners in there. The three of us faced the barre. The 3 aparrent newbies faced the teacher with their backs to the barre. In center we had simple jumps and a couple of combinations across the floor with more than one step involved. The turn was optional on the waltz step.

There was one combination that bothered me. Chasse, Saute-Arabesque, alternating legs. How does one expect to do that before being taught how to do an arabesque?

The teacher did demonstrate what a bad plie looks like with her butt way out and the proper way, went over proper turnout and spent a couple of minutes going over spotting.

There was enough there to make me confident to go back.

I just wonder how many teachers of adults out there go over things in as much detail as my high school and several of my college teachers did. In college we worked plie combinations until we got them right and then we got graded on every detail.


I think I will keep going to the new class. At the very least I will get a chance to practice some of the simpler things I have been slopping through in my intermediate class. I will still go to that too.


I think my favorite part of the beginner class was a breakdown preparing to do chaine turns. We didn't turn. We did "step out, step together, step out, step together, etc en releve. I never had a chaine broken down that far before.


There was one interesting thing I heard from an adult student outside the classroom. She had taken a pre-pointe class last year with the kids and was about to start some private point classes. I am not up for a thing like that at this time but I am glad the opportunity is there. I really want to contact one student from my other school who has been practicing pointe at home for lack of any available pointe classes. Who knows? The teacher may go semi-private with the other woman. There is also my own discomfort knowing someone is trying that unsupervised and not having enough technique classes per week to sustain it, no matter her background.


Anyway, I guess time will tell how well I will like this class and this school. I think I will buy a class card at the beginning of next month.



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A true beginner adult class is rarer than a blue moon. This class is a lot better than most! I feel for the true beginners who try to come into my class. Because this is the ONLY adult class offered at my studio (at least, in the evenings when people are actually off work), the class is populated by everyone There's no where else to go. The adult beginner classes where I used to live were the same way, monkey see, monkey do.

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Laschwen, I am glad you've found a place that has potential. I hope it works out. I like the breakdown of chainé turns that you got!


I am offering a true adult beginner class in my corner of the world this fall! I just hope there are enough interested adults for it to run! I am actually kind of excited about the possibilities as the place I am teaching will be offering three levels for adults and they go something like this:


Absolute Beginner -- for those with no ballet experience who want to start at the very beginning and learn the basics so that they can jump into regular open classes


Level 1 -- for adults with some experience, or courageous or impatient beginners who would prefer to jump in and swim along as best they can


Level 2 -- for those for whom level one is just too easy, or for those who are in level 1 but would like class multiple days a week and think they can handle a little more


Like I said, I'm excited, but I am also curious to see if all the classes fill up. Everyone says that when adults want these classes, they can't find them, but when the classes are offered, no one shows. People have just laughed at me for insisting we try to do this, but I really feel it's worth a go. I know it is, because I'm an adult who needs classes that are appropriate to my level, as well.

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Your class plan sounds wonderful. Wouldn't it be great if it were the norm?

It sounds like all you would need to do to keep adults pretty happy with two mostly appropriate level classes a week is to add a level 3.

One group would be in the absolute beginner and level one.

A second group in level one and level two, and a third group in level two and three.

It would certainly make for nice transitions to the next level.

Of course you would probably get a few people coming to three levels at once too....

If I call this new class I took a level one, then we have a gap in my area in levels, because the next level up around here is at least a 3. I think we would need several more regular participants for anyone to create one.

If I told the few I know for a while now at my first school about the level one class, and they could take it as well, it might create the demand for a level two at the new school. I'd like to bring in some new beginners from my town too. We could start a car pool. I only know one who might want to come but that would put her driving a 60 mile round trip twice a day, if she went home for dinner.

I have actually only heard that the "intermediate" level in the new school is way harder than the beginner. Now that this school has 4 ballet classes per week available, there could be a shift???

They also have a ballet conditioning class one night. I did hear it was not at all like pilates, but rather slow ballet style exercises.

Maybe I will check that out sometime too??



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...three levels for adults and they go something like this:


Absolute Beginner -- for those with no ballet experience ...


Level 1 -- for adults with some experience, ...


Level 2 -- for those for whom level one is just too easy,....

I guess I was really lucky. The studio where I learned to dance has a similar three levels, called "very beginning", "beginning-intermediate", and "intermediate". The first two follow a 12 week curriculum each quarter so that ideas are introduced in sequence. I took the very beginning class every quarter for two years before giving it up entirely, and now after four years, five classes a week the last year, I am still just barely able to handle one intermediate level class per week. (Those with prior experience, or actual talent, naturally progress faster then I do!) There are two to four classes at each level, each week, so the demand is there. These are all adult classes.


In spite of the gradual progression over the quarter, the step from one level to the next is pretty big... :) Sometimes one of the beginning-intermediate classes is more advanced than the others and nicknamed "almost intermediate"...


A year ago, I took some classes in San Francisco which were called "beginning" but were at or a bit above the level called "intermediate" where I dance.

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Wow Dude (Is that OK?)

You certainly do have luck with classes. How many students do you get on average in classes?

A chance to progress slowly and repeat things is great.

I started with beginner ballet in college even though I'd just finished a solid level three with beginner pointe in high school.

Then I would go on to intermediate, and then repeatead whatever fit into my schedule over the next 4 years, to include 3 levels of Modern, and the first level of Jazz...mt last year.

Some say I should have had that from the start as it was the one thing I excelled in first time out. Who would have known?

I hope you revel in your good fortune.



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