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New (Relatively) Adult Ballet Student


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Hello Everyone,


This forum has just been referred to me, and I have been looking around and have found some very valuable information!! (Thank you for the Petit Allegro topic...the responses there have helped me immensely.) :wacko:


I am 34-years old and returning to ballet after many years--I guess like many of us (all?) here, my return to dance has a story.


As a small child, I took dance. I liked it--I was obsessed with wanting to wear a tutu. :)


My mom--being the rock star that she is--had me enrolled me in Every Activity in the Universe--from dance to Brownies to piano lessons. Somehow, along the way, I ended up taking a jazz class, which didn't suit me, and piano won out. (To be honest, I really don't know why I quit dance...I was eight.)


I was born three months premature in 1974, which left me with a mild case of cerebal palsy that affects the left side of my body--which I will get to in a bit with regard to ballet--so although my parents encouraged me to be physical, I was never a physical person--I didn't care for team sports or any of that. Anything physical that drew attention to myself, I didn't care for. (Kids can be mean.)


At any rate--all of that aside--as time passed, I began to become obsessed with ballet--but felt embarrased to admit to anyone my desire to take classes...I was too old...to this...too that...my left side was weak, etc. I devoured anything that I could get my hands on...books, movies.


At 16, I signed up for a ballet class--well, it was a combo class, actually. The first night of class, I slid my right leg up to passe (forgive me as I've not yet researched how to do accents on here yet), and it all looked good.


I tried to slide my left teg up to passe...and sure enough...(now I know, no turn out...left foot sickled in), it didn't do what the right leg did. I was frustrated. I'm sure my teacher was frustrated. :) But I was so embarrased at what I considered a limitation on my part--and a teenager to boot--I said nothing.


Age 18...freshman year of college...taking a beginning jazz class (a college class...not studio). I found a class that suited me...I joined the dance club on campus...and would take my boom box to the studio at night and dance. (I had gone to a small school where you could do this...SOOO nice.)


Anyway, all of the classes had to be in a performance at the end of the semester...but some of the senior girls were choregraphing dances as part of their classes and holding open auditions. So I did, and I made it.


I loved it--the rehearsal every night--playing the part of a "dancer" even though I knew that I wasn't doing pointe or ballet--and that my piece was more artistic.


The next semester I transferred to another college back home and took another beginning jazz class--based on the positive experience I already had. As soon as I walked into class, I knew I was way in over my head--partly because of technique, partly because of the other dancers, and the teacher. She was kind of mean.


Not mean in the "you better have 100% turnout, or I'm going to beat you with my stick" mean. More like patronizing. After our first class, I told her about my left side being weaker and why that was...she had noticed during our warm-up at center that my tendues sickled in, etc.


She was just mean. I took other dance classes through school (PE credit), and she taught all of the beginning ones (ballet and modern). Although I did not care for her, I did learn.


At 25, I went back again..took another adult class...and the teacher commented on left foot--and I...lied. My last experience left me so self-conscious...and this woman so epitomized my image of a dancer...I couldn't say anything. I did not go back


(BTW, I have gone back and re-read this...and I hope I don't sound whiney!! Kick me with a point shoe!) :)


At any rate, I decided to go back to ballet this summer and was very upfront with my teacher--she was wonderful!! She prescribed some exercises for me using theraband--the exercises are from a pointe book--she also worked some floor barre with me and had good things to say.


My core and hips are strong and square (as in facing forward :) )--and my foot DOESN'T sickle in if I don't try to force the tendu all the way. (Does that make sense? I guess it's hard to explain in words.)


Anyway, during the month I've been back, I've noticed progress!! (I know it's not long.) We modify some things, so I can focus on one thing at a time--i.e., feet or turnout, etc. And it's helpful!


Sigh...I know this is long, and I'm sorry. :)


I have a couple of questions:


does anyone have any experience with having a weaker side that they'd had to work with? And how did you overcome and how far did you get your training?


Right now, I am taking one summer adult class through a small school (where I have the fab teacher). I told my teacher that I'd like to take more class. There's an Adult Ballet II class that meets during the week--I asked her if I could take the class--she felt that it would be too advanced, but that I could take barre. I am thinking of doing that.


Also, there is another school close to where I live--they offer Adult Open Classes. They are an actual company/dance academy. I emailed the school, and they welcome beginners. I'm thinking of adding a barre through there during the day (time limitations w/work). And in the fall, adding a class. (Currently, there adult open class coincides with my current school with the cool teacher.)


What do you think? Is this a good idea for someone like me? I want to improve, and I just don't feel that I can w/out more class. But I feel...I don't know...a bit self-conscious.


I love dance and ballet. I even love that it's a challenge. I love the dancewear, the shoes, the skirts. I told my teacher if I could be a 34-year old wearing a tutu, I would! :)


Anyway, I am glad to be here--I've been sifting through the posts/topics here--y'all seem like a great group!! Good luck to all of those going to Richmond! Have fun! :)




P.S. I've not yet figured out the signature feature, but I will. :) Thank you for reading.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Brandymichele. If you brows through the Adult Dancers fora, you'll find lots of interesting stories of people's dance histories, so you'll see you are not alone!


You asked specifically about stronger and weaker sides -- this is absolutely normal, although for most people, it's a bit like left or right-handedness. For you, there's a definite physical difference in ability, caused by the mild palsy. I'm a bit shocked that teachers have responded negatively to that information in the past -- we should all learn to accept people's different abilities -- but it's great you have a teacher who accepts that that is your reality, and is helping you work with it. We all have different abilities in different areas -- the trick is to find ways to develop and improve our weaker areas, and keep our strong areas powerful!

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Welcome! You'll find this board is very positive and supportive.


I hear you about feeling self-conscious - only a few years ago I was an out-of-shape mid-fifties guy who had never danced at all, wearing the wrong clothes, in a room full of young women dancers. For a long time I hid in the corner feeling like I was intruding on some secret cabal.


It was close, but now I'm incredibly glad I didn't let it get to me. I figured out that I'll never learn anything new without looking pretty stupid trying it at first. So I decided to look stupid for as long as it took. (It's taking a really long time :yes: , but now I'm used to it and some of these formerly-scary people are my friends.)


You'll get better technical advice on unbalanced sides at the Adult Ballet Students forum, but this being the buddy board I'll repeat what I've heard - the weak side needs more practice, so do things like always marking an exercise on that side before doing it on both sides, and sneaking in a few extra tendus etc. on that side when nothing else is happening. Do light forms of the exercises, mostly on that side, before class to warm up, or after class to cool down.


And don't go to classes with mean teachers. The dance world is full of wonderful, warm, encouraging, and helpful dance teachers who love to work with adults when they get a chance. Seek them out!

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Thank you all for your warm and encouraging responses. :wub: Please forgive my latency in replying--it has been a busy week!! (And it's Monday. :) )


Redbookish--your response was quite edifying--I am working very much on my left side with the therabands--and when my foot is quite "right" so to speak--straight and not sickled in--I feel it straight from my hip all the way down. I can only consider this a good thing. Although not difficult, it DOES require a great deal of concentration. (I feel like Inspectpr Gadget--I want to say: "Go, Go, Gadget, FOOT!") :P


In terms of "mean" teachers--it's funny and interesting--I used to tech college English to adults. And whether we're language learners, dancers, scholars, we want to get it "right" and yet we're so much more "furitive" about our approach to getting there. There is so much self-doubt there. I used to make my students applaud themselves upon their return to college.


I think with my old teacher--there was a clear case of "haves" and "have-nots." I was a "have not." To her at least. And now, I realize--being young and seeking approval--was giving away my power to someone who didn't deserve it.


Now--I am planning to be the best dancer I can be--if it's en pointe or off...it doesn't matter. Somehow, being older, I appreciate the process. :D (Although, dreaming wistfully, it would be fun to go to dance camp.) And, okay, YES, pointe would be a blast.


Please forgive any tech questions I've posted on here...I'll direct them to the appropriate place in the future.


Olddude--I am taking what you said to heart about "side-weakness." In terms of mean teachers--forget that nonsense! :thumbsup: And thank you--I enjoy your posts. They are charming and inspiring. :)


While I'm dancing this summer, I look forward to putting together my dance schedule for fall.



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