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Rhoda M

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As I want to start ballet classes again in September, I would like to start practising to get in shape a bit more. It's been so long since I danced! (How have I managed without it? :) ) I can only dance for about 15-30 mins a day. I have a good base in ballet, on a beginners' level. What exercises or steps/movements can I use for this? Are there things that I absolutely shouldn't miss? Things that are better to leave out? I would appreciate it if a teacher could answer first. (If everyone comments, it will only be confusing for me, and I might well end up with a funny mixture of everyone's favourite warming up exercises that give a total of 90 mins :yes: )


Thanks a lot!



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Rhoda, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers :yes:


Since you are still a beginner, I would focus on basic fitness and flexibility exercises, and not on ballet exercises without the supervision of a teacher. Floor exercises are okay, Pilates mat work even better. If you can't get to a Pilates class, how about a good Fitness Center? They have classes and of course lots of machines to work on various parts of the body.

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Thank you, miss Leigh. :thumbsup:


I told to another student on a forum, who was preparing to go en pointe. He offered to help me to learn ballet on my own! :wink: How is he going to do that? Use a webcam and try to explain to me what he means without touching me? Now he sure must know how to dance, because he is of course far beyond the beginner stadium (almost en pointe!) - and apparently that makes him a great teacher, too! After I had finished laughing (took me a while) I have kindly explained to him that that doesn't work for me. :) I just had to share this hilarious story with you. :lol:


At this moment I don't have the money to take any pilates lessons or do fitness in a center - I have a limited income. Do you have an idea of how I could still work on being fit? Does yoga help (I think you can often do that on your own with a good book with instructions, but I'm not sure if that doesn't encounter the same problem of not being corrected)? :lol:


In Holland (where I live) you can often take a 'sample' lesson at a ballet school during the year, to see if you like it. I want to do that to find out about the school where I think I want to take lessons. Do you have tips of what I should be looking for? I'm interested in other people's experiences, too, so please feel welcome to reply! :lol:



Edited by Rhoda M
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For an absolutely free way to get fit, brisk walking (enough to get you out of breath) sustained for around 30 minutes at a time, is a good low impact way to build basic aerobic fitness. Although you should do this in proper training shoes (running shoes, with good arch support). Swimming is also great conditioning exercise, but there are enerally pool entrance fees.


Walking is not only great exercise, but it's also useful for preparing for more complex movement. I use it all the time as a way of starting physical theatre training workshops -- it can help you get into a 'neutral' starting position for other kinds of movement.


BT4D members have also found the New York City Ballet workout DVDs to be useful conditioning in preparation for resuming ballet class. BUt I think all the teacher experts here would say you shouldn't try to give yourself a class.


Exercise videos?


Good dance workout for home?


Ballet DVDs for Home practice

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Yes, I'd rather wait with a ballet work out untill I can learn in class what I should do (and how).

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From my point of view, I found that apart from the general fitness and flexibility that the others have described, there was one area where I really needed a lot of strengthening, which daily life and most non-ballet exercises don't give you, which was strength in the feet and calves. I.e. lots of rises to demi-pointe on two feet, and then one, etc.



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Thanks, jimpickles.




What are your thoughts on Joga? Could it be helpful or rather harmful?




And: if I take a 'sample' class (not sure what this is called in english), what should I be looking for? How do I know it's a good ballet school?

Edited by Rhoda M
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Yoga can be good for balance and flexibility. :lol:


How to tell if it's a good school....let's start with the class.


A ballet class for beginners should start with the basics; Foot positions and what are they?; basic ballet alignment/stance, and how to maintain it, including discussion of what is muscle engagement; beginning concepts of rotation of the leg from the hip, and why we use turnout in classical ballet; perhaps basic music theory; port de bras or carriage of the arms; basic head movements; and of course, how to perform basic steps like:


Barre work:

Pliés- no grande at all


Battement jetés/degagé action with the opposite musical emphasis

Rond de jambes and how to maintain the rotation

Peeling the foot off the floor and learning the proper placement of sur le coup de pied- devant, perhaps wrapped, and derrière.

The concept of how one lifts the leg to get to another place: petite développé as opposed to battement jeté


In between barre and centre:

Stretching ideas

Strengthening ideas

Balancing ideas


Centre work:

Adagio- something slow-moving with arm movements to work on coordination

Something to work on how to use the mirror to understand shape and flow of movement

Relevés or rises, back to the barre, then moving to centre when balance and strength improves

Basic pre-turning exercises such as how to spot

Movement exercises across the floor en diagonale such as chassés using 1st and seconde positions, then moving to 4th and 5th

Basic jumps/sautés at the barre, then moving to center when strength and alignment improves


Something along those lines. The teacher should be patient and should be sure the class understands prior to moving forward; so if an exercise isn't going as they planned, they should be able to step back, re-explain with more detail, and get results.


If any of those things aren't in place, or if you feel lost, stressed, offered no encouragement, and like you don't know what you're doing, it is not you but the teacher.

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Thank you, Clara. :yucky:

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  • 4 weeks later...



I've had my first 'try-out' lesson yesterday. It was very nice - the students (helpfull, wanting to learn, no-one bragging or showing off), the teacher (kind, giving clear instructions and corrections), the material to dance (just at my level, challenging enough, but never making me feel awkward or lost, training basic stuff), the studio (wooden floor, enough barre for everyone, nicely placed mirrors so that you could see yourself whenever and wherever in the room you needed to, warm enough and ventilated). The teacher gave corrections to the whole group, and sometimes to individuals. This would work well for me, but I did think she could have given more corrections - I could have taken a bit more (but I like to work hard and sometimes forget to actually enjoy, so I may benefit from less corrections at a time and also be able to really work through one correction before the next one).


This is the only ballet school in the town nearby where I live. There is one in my village, too, and as soon as I have reached them, I will ask if I can take a lesson there too to be able to compare. The one I've been to yesterday was very cheap, though - it's part of a big organisation that's an over-all art school, and maybe they are being supported by the government - I don't know that, but it's either that or their teachers are being underpaid hugely! But if the school in my village is a lot better, I'll go there, of course. The other option I have is a city that I would have to travel an hour for, inc. the extra money that would cost, but I've had classes there before and they're really, really good, so it would be worth it. Well, I have some time to decide, because I won't start before September :).

Edited by Rhoda M
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... The teacher gave corrections to the whole group, and sometimes to individuals. This would work well for me, but I did think she could have given more corrections - I could have taken a bit more ...

In my experience, teachers of adults wait a while to learn whether a new student will be interested in corrections, or offended by them. If you show an active interest - for example, following other people's corrections as if they were intended for you, too - teachers will see this pretty quickly.


Amusingly enough, I have one teacher who rarely gives individual corrections - she just hates to make anyone feel bad. But she sees everything, and gives general corrections and invents new exercises to work on every problem that anyone in the class has. I am always amazed to discover (usually months later!) how much I have learned in her classes without realizing it. :shrug:


You mentioned that the class atmosphere was pleasant and helpful. I think this is very important; it's worth a lot to have a supportive community when learning something.

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I think one of the teachers remarked on this board, that teachers like to wait a class or two with a new student before giving corrections, so that they learn what that student's strengths and weaknesses are.



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