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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Taking an unfamiliar teacher's class


Pirou

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So, I have been taking class 5 or 6 days a week since I started ballet again in March, and I felt like I was improving quite a bit. I have gone from not being able to do anything to having about a 120-130 degree extension, being able to balance on one foot in demi point in a variety of positions, occasionally landing a double pirouette and tonight for the first time even did a perfect attitude turn in which I hovered at the end quite deliberately before deciding exactly how to come down into the next step.

 

so physically, I am progressing, and yet...

 

in the past few weeks, my work schedule has interfered with my ballet schedule and I haven't been able to go to class more than a few times a week, so on the day my school is closed, for the last 2 Mondays, I've visited other teachers' classes, and I found that I couldn't do a thing!

 

I've always felt a little slow to pick up combinations in class (barre and center), but I thought that I had been improving because these days it's only in the advanced class where I cannot get all the details of the combinations towards the end of class, but now I think that perhaps I'm not learning combinations any better at all, but have just become accustomed to my teacher's style, because in the unfamiliar teachers' classes, I am basically lost all the way through class, (which is really frustrating, because if you can't keep up with the exercises, you can't get warmed up!)

 

What can I do to improve this problem? I do not want to be held back by a slow brain.

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It does not have to mean that you are slow. But many less experienced dancers need longer time to get used to new teachers then more experienced dancers. That is completely normal. I do not know what is the right thing to tell you. If the new challenge stress you so much that you cannot develope, it will not help you. If it is just a challenge and after a while you can come over this stress, it will help you.

 

My question is: Have you trained with only one "stranger" or many. Maybe it is not only you alone, but one teacher with too complicated exercises for you at the moment?

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And sometimes as a working adult, it just means that your brain has a whole lot of other stuff going on. Dont be so hard on yourself. You indicated that your work schedule has been pretty hectic - that has a big effect on it. I remembered combinations so much better when i was younger and had less 'important' things to worry about.

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So, I figured something out. In my quest to improve my ability to learn unfamiliar combinations, I attended yet another teacher's class this morning, and I still struggled to pick up the barre and center combinations, even though they were definitely not hard.

 

Then when I got home and was sitting around thinking about it (moping, in fact), I realized this: my teacher plays the music while he recites the combination, and all the other teachers just recite the combination with no music, then they play the music, which isn't necessarily even at the same tempo, and we're supposed to match the combination to the music for the first time when we do it.

 

So now I realize I associate the movements with the music, and that's how I'm able to do them. When I don't hear the tempo and the music along with the combination, I struggle to put it all together. So - having identified this fact, I think maybe I should be able to learn to this without music. Any ideas how to start this process?

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Guest pink tights

I would say a well prepared teacher has the combinations prepared with music, prior to class. B) That is if you work with CD's....Live music is another thing.

 

Also, the first class (or two) with a new teacher is always off, for me. Different teaching methods, schools, and personalities all factor in.

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Pirou, I understand your frustration. Marking is critical for picking steps up quickly. If the teacher breaks the class up in groups, join the second group and "mark" it in the back of the studio.

 

Sometimes a teacher may not give you steps that precisely match the music, some teachers allow adjustments, other teachers are very strict about being correct. I must confess, I make the steps match the music and sometimes I get Corrected. :^)

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...

Sometimes a teacher may not give you steps that precisely match the music, some teachers allow adjustments, other teachers are very strict about being correct. I must confess, I make the steps match the music and sometimes I get Corrected. :^)

I have that experience too.

 

None of my teachers (I have several) give the combination with the music, and the tempo is rarely set during the marking. The music starts and you get some idea of tempo during the preparation - I guess it's just another skill to learn. Often I don't know whether to take it fast or slow, and I'm going half speed or double speed at first. :o Most of my teachers count while marking, but you never know whether a new teacher will do a grand port de bras in a count of 8 or a count of 4.

 

Eventually I've learned that one teacher will usually want it faster than you think, another will go with the slow tempo, and the next teacher will switch to double speed or half speed in the middle of the combination, or do a waltz in 4/4 (ONE two three FOUR one two THREE four one TWO three four...) without warning. You have to keep an eye on her - in the mirror if necessary - throughout the combination. But she's such a good teacher in other ways ... :wub:

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I have had one teacher switch between regular and double-time in the same combination, so sometimes 8 counts is 8 and sometimes it's 4! Or vice versa. It can be confusing, but I guess we learn to spot these quirks as we get used to how our teachers put combinations together.

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Pirou,

I can tell you from experience that being able to dance the combination without hearing the music first will become easier over time. It used to seem impossible to me about 4 years ago but now is pretty easy as long as I am familiar with the teacher. I have been dancing continuously for 20 years and I still have to really pay attention in a new teacher's class & I may not be able to get all of the combinations, so that is normal too. You are very brave to try other teachers! :wub:

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  • 1 month later...

Just following up to report that due to my mother's plumbing exploding and having to travel home to Raleigh for most of December, and the holidays and my teacher going on vacation, in the last month I've taken class with 7 unfamiliar teachers at 5 unfamiliar studios. And I think that as a result, I'm actually improving at learning basic unfamiliar combinations at the barre, and even a little bit at center. I still don't get everything altogether, but as long as I'm in the right level class, I seem to be getting things right at the barre about 85-90% (except for the dreaded frappés, which are more like 30-40%!.) The center is still harder, but I'm improving there, too. I think it's just another part of my brain that needs working out, so I'm going to try to go to one class outside my teachers's studio each week to continue developing these brain cells.

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