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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adult Ballet Class -- Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced


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I've noticed that the juvenile ballet classes are broken to levels, from 1 - 6 or even 1 - 8. On the other hand, it isn't unusual to see Adult Ballet classes grouped into: Beginning, Intermediate/Advanced [or] Beginning, Advanced Beginning/Intermediate [or] Ballet 1, Ballet 2, Ballet 3, (Ballet 4), Beginning Pointe.


I think that the last grouping might be more helpful to the student in placing themselves at the level most appropriate. Still, I wonder, why are the class levels in the Adult division so much looser than their juvenile counterpart, why is there a paucity of description of the classes and the skill levels required, and why is there no placement? I've seen students in Ballet 2, who IMHO have no business dancing at that level; is there a concern from the school about offending these students' sensibilities? I rather think that we Adult ballet students stand to benefit as much from correct class placement as our younger counterparts do.


Now, not having studied any kind of dance training in my younger years, I can't comment on the content of the classes in each of the children ballet class levels. But I do find it rather interesting that in my ballet classes, the class routine always included the various barre and center exercises....all thrown in sequential order. Does the same "mixed bag" exist at each of the levels in the children/pre-professional classes, or are specific steps introduced at specific levels?

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Childrens classes are geared somewhat differently, in terms of their age/maturity in physical ability and learning ability. They learn very specific things at specific levels. They are required to attend a certain number of classes per week in order to learn this material, and hopefully master it well enough to move to the next level when it is time.


Adult classes are not "leveled" the same because there are not as many adult students, and there are not as many adult students willing to commit to the time, and to pay for a specific number of classes per week. While there certainly are many very dedicated adult students, as evidenced by this forum, most adult students are not regular in attendance and, if they started late, may not progress up through a whole series of levels. Some will, but the majority will not stay with it long enough. So, you have your beginning and more advanced beginning classes, and then you have Int. or Int./Adv., which are usually people who have had a lot of training at some point in their lives and have returned or continued to dance as often as they can.

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Sounds like private instruction may be the option to pursue if an adult student seriously and diligently attends classes, but dreams to dance at a semi-professional level and perform onstage beyond class recitals.


Sometimes, reality just bites! for us adults who have so much commitments just to live.

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What about joining the kiddos in their leveled classes? Not for everyone, I know, but it is one way to follow a regular curriculum regularly. Our teachers recommend this for any adult who wants to follow a more rigorous schedule than the adult classes allow.


My only caveat would be to have some empathy for the kids' perspective. They don't mind an adult who fits in and follows the class norms. They hate adults who want things explained endlessly, or who ignore the kids (in or out of class), or who try to pretend they are pre- or young teens again.

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Oh, I can really see myself with the kiddos! Thanks, but I'll pass. It's been ages since I was one myself, and don't know anymore how to interact with these folks.

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To add to that list, kids also hate adults in their classes who don't know or use the proper etiquette, aren't held to the same dress code, and get in the way while traveling across the floor!


Agnes, it all depends on where you live. In some places (particularly in cities the size of Boston and larger), there are plenty of adult students, so there are plenty of adult classes, and often even levelled classes.

Unfortunately, this doesn't work as well in smaller cities and towns. I'm in a well-populated area just outside of a capitol city and the adult students around here have complained many times that they have few options when it comes to classes. However, when adult classes were recently offered where I teach, complete with full class descriptions and with placement options in four different levels, not enough people signed up to allow even one of those classes to run. The adults who signed up for class at our school all chose what is essentially a beginner ballet/stretch class, all except one of them. She has been dancing with the children for years, so she continues to do that instead. There are other adults in the area who have said time and time again that they want placement and levels, etc., but in the end, they stayed with the places they knew and complained about instead of giving this other school a try.

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From experience, I think that we adults are more empathetic and excited to see one or two junior ballet students in our class. For one, they almost always execute their movements based on what they've been taught, making them role models. And being minorities in a class full of adults, they are quite well mannered.


I don't know that there is the same reciprocity or charitable attitude from kids. I've observed very little of these kids in class, I'll admit. Maybe the ones I saw are just socially awkward, Type A princesses-prima-donnas-in waiting with their eyes for that principal role to the exclusion of everyone else. Now, I'm really gonna get it..........sorry :cool2:.


It bottom lines for me like this: Develop a close rapport with your teacher, enough to be able to suggest aligning the class closer to what a curriculum-based class contains. Or, employ a dedicated, meticulous private instructor who will customized the difficulty level of the classes to your skill level....yes, I know we don't all have trust funds or six-figure incomes.

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I have to say - and this is only my experience - but being in a situation where the only way I could even take ONE ballet class a week was to join the kiddos - has been marvelous!!


Sure, it takes a bit of time for the kids to get used to you and for you (me) to not feel like the "elephant in the room," so to speak, but we have developed a great rapport and I enjoy them so much and I think they like having me there too...I am more advanced than some and less so than others, but it has been a great experience for me. And it's fun to see them progress and be able to cheer them on and cheer them up when necessary.


As a result of my taking classes regularly with the kids, my friends (some of them the moms of these kids) have become interested in taking class, so my studio has begun an adult ballet class two nights a week. It is taking hold slowly and I hope will develop a loyal following. And all this means that I will have just that many more opportunities to take class!!


As an aside, because I am the mom to two boys, I am in class with some of the girls in high school and get to hear all the good stuff going on at school that boys never seem to want to chat about - like when to order his cap and gown for his graduation in the spring - good information to have!! haha

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We have an adult class at our studio and it is NOT for children LOL. The dancers are all over 35 and for many of us it has been 20 years since we were serious dancers. Age and children and sedentary lifestyle has taken a toll on our once lithe figures and the ability to dance with other not so perfect women all striving to get in better shape and feel good is very empowering. It really depends on what you need and are looking for, I guess.

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I think there is also a bit of an age issue together with a technique one. For example it doesn't really happen that 12 year olds dance with 3 year olds but its quite common for a 20 year old to dance with a 45 year old.


I'm nearly 20 and I've been dancing for three and a half years but I seem to fit inbetween divisions. I'm too old for the kids but I feel too young for the adults. I just end up taking all the classes I can get my hands on, both adult and childrens, without actually feeling like I belong to any.

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