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Ballet Talk for Dancers

College Class or Private Studio?


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First, allow me to gush on about this forum... it is just awesome! When I first got started looking into ballet, I thought it was an impossible dream - period. Further, I thought that if I could even find anyone who would discuss it without laughing, that they would also probably tell me to pack it in and go home.


Then I found this forum. Wow. It has been so unbelievably encouraging. Thanks to each of you for your insights I have found with my direct questions and even lurking from one post to another. You guys have made me feel like a part of something special. I appreciate it so much – it truly has made all the difference!


Now - on to my next question.


I now have the opportunity to enroll in a Ballet 101 class in a community college - or - to find a local studio to learn Ballet 101.


Do any of you have any experience or ideas concerning a college course in ballet vs. a private studio class? If you were going to counsel your family member - what advice would you given them with this question?


Thank you again!



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Trysden, that is really not a question we can answer without knowing the quality of training at either place. Some colleges have great programs, others do not. The same applies to private studios.


In the college course, how many classes a week would you have and how long are the classes? What is offered at the private school? Have you visited both programs? It would help to watch a class at each place. Even though you are not experienced, there are some things you will be able to learn by doing this. Look for the seriousness of the class, the amount of attention, explanation and correction given by the teacher, and the overall look of the dancers in the class. I think you will be able to tell which one will give you better training.


If there are several private schools, look at all of them, or as many as you can. But, there is one thing you may find at most, and that is that they don't take adults as seriously as they might at the college, and they don't have the same expectations in terms of attendance and discipline.

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I had actually "assumed" all those things - but it was mere guesswork on my part and I really needed some real advice that is stronger than my unlearned assumptions. So thank you for validating the assumptions, especially your last line which was at the crux of my musings: the college class by definition requires discipline, attendance and regulated, stepped advancement over a private studio which does not have the carrot or the stick. Yet - as you said, what is the level of instruction and I can certainly see that a private studio with the right combination of students-teachers as well as qualifications and expectations of excellence could trump the built-in college qualities. Sighhh...


I stated in a previous post that I was "looking for the perfect class". One of the kind responses was that "I would never find it." Perhaps not. But there is nothing to keep me from looking anyway! First "they" said to 'get real dude" - Ballet is a silly and impossible dream. Now it seems that finding the perfect class is impossible. Well, it seems to me that the unity of two impossible dreams should make for one grand Quixotic adventure - as it also did a great ballet!


Well, Sancho, where shall we look next?



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Hi: I will add some of my experience in taking a college level dance class.

It was fun.

It was hard work.

The classes were only once a week for an hour and 40 minutes; 1o minutes of which was lecture.

It was pricey.

If you do it, and you are not interested in doing the homework or taking tests, ask for forms so you can audit. That way you can just dance.

Take into consideration the full semester schedule and syllabus to determine how many of the classes scheduled will be actual dancing vs skill test days and possibly written midterms and finals, and holidays.

With this info and the tuition you can figure out how much the per class fee is to compare with local dance studios.

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Actually Laschwen - I was very interested in the classroom portion, exams and other adacemic elements related to Ballet. To me that is a plus - even if there would be no credit invloved. I realize I can get the same thing by books from the library - but it is also nice to sit before a "teacher" and get fed in measured, disciplined amounts. I have learned that the ever-ticking-clock of the established classroom always far superior to my good intentions any day. Mixing it all toghether would be a very engaging experience, I think...


However - perhaps all of that is also available in a private setting? I don't know.



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Yaknow Ripresa... I had actually considered that option!


(I really, really like your reasoning... are you perchance an engineer by trade???)


I was brainstorming this and the "storm the beaches" approach and thought that perhaps doing both might just be a total immersion type fun thing to do.


However - I am so lacking in any knowledge about any of this that I also was in some fear and trembling that perhaps I would violate some secret code of ballet ethics and end up locked in the public stocks in pink leotards or something...


Actually - my basic fear was that I would end up learning the same stuff at the same time and some efficiency would be wasted somewhere. Or - perhaps one class would be so far superior to the other that I would end up totally out of some sequence of which I have no knowledge of. Kind of like the fear of taking the class of entropy before the one on enthalpy or some other horrible thermodynamic equivalent. (I still have nightmares about that class.) :thumbsup:


However - tell me - isn’t this just a useless fear on my part? In the worst case, would an out of sequence learning in two disparate classes just be a reinforcing experience in ballet?


THANKS for your thoughts!!



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Trysden, from my experience, you can always benefit from more class.


Two examples you might come across.


1, the classes may be at the same level. Awesome! You get to do the same exercises, strengthen the same muscles, and really perfect the basic movements Twice as often! Plus, with two different teachers viewing your work, you can get critiques from one the other might have missed.


2, the classes may be at completely different spectrums. Again, so cool! The more advanced class will push you further, while the basics class breaks down the tiniest details. I was invited to participate in an adult beginner class more than once, although I was considered an intermediate. By doing both, I can find my ideal muscle usage, strength, weaknesses, etc.



There is a third option, and it is one you might want to explore. If the studio and the college teach different schools of ballet. :thumbsup: That would be mind blowing, and something I would never want to tackle at the beginning. (When I say "schools" I mean French style, Russian (Vaganova) Or Cecchetti)

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Wow - Irishprincess - what a glorious thought. Thank you for filling this idea out so much more in depth. I never even considered taking two styles of ballet simultaneously.


I lived with a US Navy Seal during and just after his hell week. I'm getting flashbacks of what such a dual enrollment might be like for male ballet dancers... :thumbsup: Can you imagine keeping styles seperate for exams? I mean - the French and the Russians never really got along very well under normal conditions...



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Hahah.. Trysden. Yes, I'm a software engineer!


As an absolute beginner, it's pretty much a matter of creating physical memory, and that takes a lot of practices. And I'm assuming both classes are going to be at an absolute beginner level anyways. If they follow different schools of ballet technique, it may be a little confusing though. So that's the one potential downside. But you can always stop the classes in the private studio if you find it too confusing, as most private studios I know are usually only one month commitment at most for adults.


And also universities do allow you to drop classes with partial refund, you should find out what that specific university policy is.


But while you have all this energy and excitement, why not harnass it? When I first started as an Adult, I was so enthralled and excited I was taking between 2 to 4 classes a week. All beginning level. And I did take in different studios, one chechetti, and one balanchine style. The only confusion I got was from the arabesque names, and one teacher kept forcing me to get more turnout, while the other was all about natural turnout. It was fascinating to see the different styles.

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I enrolled in a community college ballet class and the instructor was outstanding. I learned so much and grew leaps and bounds. I also made great connections with other dancers my age, and soon had found good ballet classes for adults all over the city, some with the same instructor.


As someone mentioned, you can usually drop college classes within the first few weeks, so if it's not for you, you don't have to continue.

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Hahah.. Trysden. Yes, I'm a software engineer!


Wow - Ripresa - not only did your comments inspire me - but to know that I an not the only engineer on the floor is also very much inspiring! Isn't it awesome? Thanks so very much.







Thanks for your encouragement and details of your own experience with the college class. That was exactly what I was loking for and I appreciate your comments very much.



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Last semester I took Beginning Ballet twice a week and Intermediate Ballet twice a week and it was AMAZING. On Mondays and Wednesdays (Intermediate) I would get to try the new stuff and work on turns and really get a good workout, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays (Beginning) I got to really break down every step and focus on the basics. It was really very helpful, and I would definitely recommend it!

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I see you live in Los Angeles...you should take class with Charlotte Richards at Santa Monica College. She also teaches at a few studios around the city. She is fantastic. I'm considering making the hour and a half commute back to LA from where I live now once a week just to take class with her again some time!

Edited by Redbookish
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Thanks so much for the recommendation! I am currently looking for a place to take classes while at home for the summer so this is great! :)

Edited by Redbookish
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