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Studio Etiquette


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I had an Interesting Class today:


One dancer Danced with multiple groups, actually danced with EVERY group, without consideration to spacing or movement. During grande allegro said person decided to strike a pose without consideration to the dancers coming through, I almost landed on her doing a"blind" tour jete (facing the back corner)


I never have this issue with teen or class with my company. The teacher is too diplomatic to say anything besides a very general comment, I certain the dancers she is addressing ignore it or are oblivious.


Is there a Ballet ettiquette guidebook that I could leave on a bulletin board or someplace? If dancers knew there were common courtesy rules, they would behave a lot more respectful towards the teacher.





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  • Redbookish


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The teacher should have been less diplomatic than the impression I am getting from you. In my classes, when the grouping goes awry due to some dancers sitting it out or some dancers dancing with every group, and other dancers are negatively affected, the teacher usually tactfully instructs the "offender(s)" to dance with a specific group.


I hate it when someone dances and fails, most likely unintentionally, to keep proper spacing, especially when they get into my space and I have to negotiate an evasive action to prevent colliding with them. :firedevil:

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OOO one of our favourite grumpy topics here! I agree with both MJ and Agnes that this sort of behaviour is rude, but -- more importantly for me -- dangerous.


In one of my more advanced classes a couple of us have had problems with a particular student who is not really advanced enough for the class, and is a complete loose cannon in the centre, because she doesn't know what she's doing, has no idea of her own or other people's space, and has obviously never learned ballet class ettiquette.


Once she came from nowhere (she wasn't in the group starting out) to cut round in front of me in a grand allegro combination and I kicked her in a jeté -- it would have been worse if I hadn't just seen her from the corner of my eye as she came in front of me and pulled back my jump! However, as we were walking back, she said to me: "Oh, you really wanted to kick me back there!" :o


I was speechless, as she was completely in the wrong, and this was confirmed by another dancer in the class. I keep well away from her, but a friend of mine in the class, who is an ex-pro (so really knows what she's doing) had similar problems the next week she was there. And she scurries around the studio -- often sitting down in front of the teacher as he marks an exercise (to watch his feet closely?), so sometimes it is hard to avoid her. She's not been asked into the summer classes (which are organised privately) thank goodness!


If she had continued in the class, I decided I was going to have to screw up my courage and talk to our teacher about it. I thought that I would do so in terms of the safety aspect. I'm still a bit wary of falling over after breaking my wrist -- I've been told that I could risk mangling my wrist & hand, so someone like this in class makes me nervous. But the more I think about it, the more I think it's the safety aspect we need to emphasise. THen it's not so much "telling the teacher" to ask that the teacher keep an eye on this, or hae a quiet word with dancers who habitually put people's safety at risk.


But class arrangements are so simple to follow, and simple for teachers to insist upon, even for adults. My current teacher does it really nicely by actively separating the class into 2 groups for turns and petit allegro (ie she makes the division), then asks for groups of 2 or 5 (or whatever number she thinks is required for the combination) for across the floor work & grande allegro. She keeps an eye on it, but not in a strict way.

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The teacher should have been less diplomatic ...

I totally agree. It's an important part of learning ballet - learning to be mindful of others on the stage with you. Very little ballet is individual variations; very much of ballet is corps work. I'm not saying it's easy - I am often concentrating on my toes too much to be aware of my feet, much less the stage or other dancers.


I have been on the receiving end of this correction a couple times, and seen it given several more times. It can be quite embarrassing - my best teacher will stop the class and address one individual directly about it, then turn to everyone else and say "and he/she is not alone!". It's especially effective because this teacher is the sweetest, kindest person imaginable. But she does take ballet seriously - and nobody forgets this lesson!

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"I was speechless, as she was completely in the wrong..."


"... I decided I was going to have to screw up my courage "


Ummm - Redbookish - you're a Professor - you're used to laying down the law. Why dont you just go ahead??? Professor mode??


PS Im off at a scientific meeting in Australia (just up the road from where I live) - we just heard a talk from "Mao's Last Dancer" - I thought that maybe he was just on the tour as an inspirational after-dinner speaker, but he also has a deaf child who was given a cochlear implant by a member of the audience - it is a meeting of otolaryngologists - his book is well worth reading, if anyone's not read it - going from extreme poverty in China to being one of the top male ballet dancers in the world.



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My fellow students in class - granted, all teens - have heard me say on many an occasion "Get out of my way!" as I'm doing a combo. At their age (they're not beginners but not advanced either), they have little sense of space.


This week, I actively moved one of my fave students, I mean physically, because she was not using the space next to her and I was afraid of running into her when we did some center work. She was quite amenable about it. The teacher did pick up on this and discuss it with us all, but teens being teens, it went in one ear and out the other. ;-)

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I think that, sometimes, classes for adults can be a bit too relaxed in their attempts to be non-intimidating and a 'safe' space for beginners. If every new student who attended was given a sheet of paper with etiquette guidelines on it, it wouldn't do any harm and would ensure that everyone was well-informed.

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I had a classmate who would go with her group and then go with every other group she could get to. I wish our teacher had said something. Sheesh - if we all did that, what would be the point of going in two's or three's?

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There was a point yesterday when two of the "loose cannon" dancers were in front and behind me. :o


I had to focus on avoiding them, and my steps were terrible.





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Ummm - Redbookish - you're a Professor - you're used to laying down the law. Why dont you just go ahead??? Professor mode??



Oh jimpickles, I'm not a professor in the studio -- just another student! Not my place at all to lay down the law there.

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The teacher needs to stop the bad behavior in class, either in front of everyone diplomatically, or if that doesn't work, then after or before the next class. It's not your responsibility to stop it yourself. Now, it couldn't hurt to make sure the teacher's aware of it by saying something quietly after class...

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I'm going to ask something related to what has gone before - but is also off topic a bit - I hope that's OK.


Because I'm tall I tend to cover more space than the others. So however I manage it, I have to be careful not to crash or get in anyone's way. If I start at the back of the group, then I've a tendency to plough into the group. If I start at the front (well, I dont usually, because I cant remember what to do - but it occurs when we change direction) then the same thing happens when we reverse. Also when going sideways - if one way is OK, the other isn't. Obviously I try to place myself and work around it as much as I can, but is there a nice, neat solution?





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A very useful thread for me! Since I started ballet in a very safe and spacious adult class (wtih one or two other students in our huuuuge studio) and moved into teen classes where it got much more crowded, I had to learn these rules/studio etiquettes quite quickly and without much explicit teaching. Please keep continuing with your advice and instances which make you feel uncomfortable in class. This information would be very helpful!


Eun Hee

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Eunheejun, for me, I think class ettiquette is actually quite simple. Although it takes a lot more words to explain it here than it would do to show you in the studio! :)


You stay at one place during the barre, unless the teacher moves you. You leave enough room for your leg to go devant and derriere in grande battements. If there isn't you angle towards the barre (devant) and away from the barre (derriere). Same with forwards port de bras. You try to make sure you don't encroach on your neighbours' space.


In the centre, for tendus & adage, pirouettes in place, and petit allegro, you try to line up with about 3-4 other dancers (depending on how big the studio is). You stay in the same place, unless the teacher moves you individually, or your whole line.


Dancers in lines behind the front line should position themselves in the gap between dancers in front of them, so they can see the mirror and the teacher can see them.


For combinations across the floor, you should go in groups of 2, or 3, or 4, or 5 (in my advanced class we also do combinations one at a time -- scary for different reasons!). Whatever the teacher asks for. Your group should be ready to go as soon as the music is right & the previous group has finished, and you should stay with your group. If you want to go a second time in the same round of doing the combination you should ASK the group you want to tag along with, and go at the back of the group.


And my CARDINAL rule (RB hums "If I ruled the world") is that those dancing have right of way. It's not rocket science, just safe and polite.


Dancers who have finished doing an across the floor combination should get out of the way as quickly as possible -- no sauntering to the back of the studio. They should keep close the walls in single file, not saunter in pairs chatting, to the back of the studio, and they should not just stop dead after finishing. I have sometimes had to say "Coming though!" or even more rudely "Get out of the way!" to dancers who just stop.


I don't like doing that -- it feels as though I'm being rude (maybe this is Englishness?), and I once had another student really take me to task after a class, and tell me how much I had upset her :blink: , because I had asked her to move forward a bit at the barre (I had been there first & she positioned herself too close for comfort when there was no need to), because I was worried I was going to hit her with my arm in a forwards port de bras. She didn't accept that was a legitimate reason for asking her to move a little bit. :shrug:


Here's a thread on the topic, and I think within the thread there are links to other threads. It's a hot topic with some of us, obviously!


Getting out of the way


Hope that was professorial enough, jimpickles!! :wallbash:


Do other Adult Dancers agree? What are your ideas, suggestions, and rules for sharing class space?


More discussions


Flying in Formation


Feeling crowded in class

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I wholeheartedly agree, RB!


In the UK, I was in smaller classes. Here in the US, I'm in small-ish classes (so far) but have had to ask or, in one or two cases, demand that people move out of the way.


In one class, I hadn't even finished positioning myself for the first center exercises when another student asked me not to position myself in front of her. I was on my way to the opposite side of the room, actually, and had simply paused to check my shoe. I admit to feeling quite insulted as I rarely, if ever, took front position in any of the classes, and she knew it.

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