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Ballet Talk for Dancers

No warmups...


je danse dans ma tete

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In most of my classes, we are permitted to wear warmups as long as they do not prevent the teacher from seeing our alignment. In one class, however, the teacher has put a strict ban on warmups... no legwarmers, no little knit shorts, no ballet wrap sweaters, no ballet skirts, no anything! She says it is unprofessional (which may be true, but we are not pretending to be anywhere near a professional or even pre-professional level) and sloppy and offends her eyes.

 

I really, really, really need to wear warmups. I guess I have some body image issues and I can't dance without them because I get disgusted by looking at myself in the mirror. The image issues started a decade ago in my early teen years, but resurfaced a couple months ago in the ballet context when a teacher said during one exercise at the barre that if I engaged my quads they wouldn't be so jello-y and my line would be lovely. I know she was talking more about pulling up but it brought back a lot of feelings.

 

I find that since that day, when I wear warmups I am more confident and able to focus purely on dancing- on what my body can do rather than on what it looks like. I need legwarmers to cover up my calves, shorts or a skirt to hide my thighs, and a sweater or rolldown warmup pants to cover my middle. Sometimes arm warmers. Most of it comes off as I get hot, except perhaps the skirt or shorts. It's never really been an issue before because I still choose things that are tight enough so my lines and joints are visible. I know that I need this extra class in order to keep improving, but I am by no means a rebel and would never dream of going against a teacher's expectations. I am on the verge of unregistering, I'm not sure what to do. Without my warmups I feel so exposed and vulnerable.

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Pro/ occasional teacher here. I wish, wish, wish WISH teachers wouldn't make this rule. I'm a big believer in warmups, as they meet a number of needs, physical and emotional. I'd never dream of making a rule like this for an adult class. In a pre-pro school with kids, sure, it's part of the program, but not with adults. Believe it or not, I once danced for a company where this policy was in place for professionals. It was one of the reasons I left. I'm not a child and won't be treated like one. My advice is to speak to the teacher, and explain that warmups are necessary for you (you don't need to give a reason, though you might mention any physical one that you could possibly have). If she stands firm, I'd fine another class.

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Wear a unitard.

 

It is thicker to keep you warm and not so see through. When it is all one color you don't notice so much about yourself in the mirror either. I just don't look unless I really need to.

 

Try remembering all that extra clothing makes most of us just look thicker. I just saw some photos of myself both with and without the leg warmers at adult dance camp and I vote that without looks leaner.

 

It is an extension of my old philosophy about my height. If I can't hid it in flat shoes, I am not likely to hide my jiggles in leg warmers and such; but taking away my skirts! How Rude.

 

I feel for you there.

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I think it would be a pity if you felt you'd have to unregister for a class you really want to keep taking, because of a reason like that! I mean, the thing about body image issues is that most of us have them, but on some level we know they ARE in our heads.

In reality, it doesn't matter that we aren't perfect, because we ARE beautiful!

I admire something different in each of my classmates, as far apart as they might be in bodytypes AND levels of technical ablity - because they are all good at SOMETHING, and THAT is what strikes you when you watch them dance - NOT the things they are less good at!

It's a crying shame that it doesn't work like that when we watch ourselves. :)

 

So if talking to the teacher doesn't help, maybe you could at least TRY to use this as an opportunity to fight the demons that make you feel so insecure?

 

Of course it's too easy to say 'Just focus on what's GOOD', while in reality of course we ALSO see the things we are insecure about, but I have found that it is possible to 'correct' your own thoughts if you really make an effort.

For example, in the situation with the comment about the quads, the automatic thought might be

Yuck, she's right: I'm not engaging my quads, they are like jello, look how they wobble! :lol:
but you CAN actively change that to
Ah, look what happens now that I engage them, look how clean my line becomes! :D

It takes an effort though, especially at the start.

But I am sure you look lovely, with or without warm-ups, so I think you should not let bad thoughts/feelings hold you back!

 

And if after, let's say, 4 or 5 classes of actively correcting yourself like that, you feel it's still not getting easier, and you find that the class really doesn't make you feel good at all, THEN you can always still quit!

I think it's always a better feeling to quit knowing that you've REALLY tried all other options, and vice versa: when pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, it's quite comforting to know in the back of your mind that you can always quit afterwards, if it doesn't work out. :)

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Guest thefamilyguy

If you want a guy's opinion....I'm new to ballet and plan on taking my first class next week...with my wife. We're very excited to be doing this and we ARE going to wear proper attire (and trust me, we're not exactly magazine cover material). I posted similar questions on the men's board, and such, and have come to the conclusion that this is about my love for ballet. We're going to wear the proper attire out of respect for the art and the teacher. Just like when we bicycle, run, swim, etc, we wear the appropriate attire. And, yes, I will look at the other people in class and notice what they're wearing. I observed one the other night. There were women of all ages and shapes, and all but one wore the proper attire, and that one was the one that stood out. I respected every lady in there for just doing it, and I don't think anybody going to look at you and say you're not "pretty" enough to be here...I think they'll be happy to share their passion with you.

 

imho

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I am a teacher here, with a degree in dance, currently take class with a former Brazilian ballerina, am almost 40 and I have had two babies- do I need to explain body issues with a rectus abdominus that didn't close up following their births? I personally would NEVER put stipulations like that on adults, student situations are a lot different as are their bodies which are more pliable, less likely to injure and don't have years of having to conform to standards required to perform their owner's income-providing job(some people are on their feet all day, others are sitting at a desk, leaning over a computer in no where near the proper spinal alignment for dance).

 

Believe it or not, I think that this kind of inflexibility will eventually bite her in the you-know-where! Yes, the back POCKETBOOK :) Adults are not stupid, and unless she is transforming average individuals into Paloma Herrera's, I think that people will tire quickly of the demand of no warm up gear. Heavens, during the winter here, I teach in a leotard and tights with wool tights over my leotard and a matching sweater which usually comes off early on in the night. The woolies, however, stay on the entire evening because I do not want to get injured because I got cold(which does cause the outermost muscles to contract causing "goosebumps").

 

I love the idea of a unitard. I wore those frequently when taking class, but the studio where my teacher holds class doesn't have good ventilation, and I often feel overheated in just my leotard, tights and skirt(if anyone ever told me I could not wear this, I would never return to their class as this is my only camoflauge of the kangaroo pouch despite years of Pilates). :lol:

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If the studio cannot provide adequate heating, then warm-up clothes are appropriate, until ones muscles are properly warmed up.

 

If the teacher is truly correcting on an individual and hands-on basis, then wam-up clothes do get in the way. Some adult students do not like to be corrected; in this case, they can let the teacher know; the teacher should respect that, and let the attire matter rest. Quite possibly, it would be less likely that that student would receive any further corrections.

 

If the issue is with one's perception of their body image, then covering up does nothing to properly address that issue (IMHO). Perhaps the larger issue is overcoming that hindrance. Long ago, I was very uncomfortable with people touching me. My personal space was slightly larger than my arm's length. But when I decided that I wanted to dance, I realized that I will need to share much tighter spaces with other bodies, and that I should be prepared to touch and to be touched. So I did what I had to in order to get over that wall. And when I started to pursue my ballet education, I braced myself for seeing myself wearing 'next to nothing (leos and tights)' ; with regular classes, I got accustomed to the uniform. My teachers love to correct me because they are comfortable touching me, and seeing that I respond favorably.

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If you want a guy's opinion....I'm new to ballet and plan on taking my first class next week...with my wife. We're very excited to be doing this and we ARE going to wear proper attire (and trust me, we're not exactly magazine cover material). I posted similar questions on the men's board, and such, and have come to the conclusion that this is about my love for ballet. We're going to wear the proper attire out of respect for the art and the teacher. Just like when we bicycle, run, swim, etc, we wear the appropriate attire. And, yes, I will look at the other people in class and notice what they're wearing. I observed one the other night. There were women of all ages and shapes, and all but one wore the proper attire, and that one was the one that stood out. I respected every lady in there for just doing it, and I don't think anybody going to look at you and say you're not "pretty" enough to be here...I think they'll be happy to share their passion with you.

 

imho

 

I'm not quite sure what you would consider "proper attire", thefamilyguy. Have you researched that subject or are you going mainly on what you observed in class that day? Some studios go as far as requiring that all students wear leotards of the same exact color, some as far as having all students order the exact same leotard from the same exact maker that is also the same color. A person wearing a burgundy colored leotard in a sea of black might look like they are not wearing the proper attire when, in fact, it is perfectly proper ballet attire, just not called for by that particular teacher. The terminology of "proper ballet attire" is somewhat subjective and is very dependent upon your own experience and training and the ballet background you come from. (BTW, I have no problem with studios that have a dress code like that mentioned above because it helps the teacher and also the other students recognize a level by the color. It is also somewhat of a badge of honor and something to be proud of when you graduate levels. It can be expensive for parents but that's another issue.)

 

I think you have some validity to your point here, proper attire is important so that the teacher can evaluate a person's body as it does not get in the way or causes a distraction. I teach a beginning level class (the level you, thefamilyguy, are entering) and I have tried to emphasis this to the new students in a way that helps them feel confident while still encouraging their choices. Sometimes they ask me a question about their alignment and I gently explain that I cannot answer since I cannot see. Then they roll up their pants to reveal their knees which helps to some degree. Slowly they are seeing the wisdom of wearing tighter fitting clothing. I don't really think of it as a respect issue, though. I think it has more to do with inexperience and their not realizing the logical reasoning for it.

 

On the other side, "proper ballet attire" does not necessarily mean that you cannot have a skirt or close fitting sweater. For a woman who may need to have some coverings (and I won't embarrass anyone with examples to define the word "need" here. Let's just say that there are physical issues not mentioned yet that women deal with that a man does not deal with, not to say that he wouldn't have reasons of his own...) it is a hard and fast rule that is very restrictive. It would be akin to sayng that a man cannot wear a full unitard but must have his torso bare to the waist so that the teacher can see his line. It doesn't make sense. While some men might be just fine with that, like some women are with wearing only a leotard, some would be very self conscious. And, it wouldn't always even be the men with the chiselled physique that would be just fine, body shape might have very little to do with it.

 

I agree that a rule about no skirts or skirted leotards at all is going a little far for an adult class, as long as they were close fitting enough for the teacher to see a person's body.

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I have a number of teachers and one didn't like us wearing other things than the standard attire. However, the other night I did wear my warm-ups due to the cold temps in the room this week. Nothing was said.

 

I must admit though that I hate seeing myself IN warm-ups - they make me look a lot bigger than I am. But if they're needed, they're needed.

 

At our age, sometimes these are necessary for just physical safety. As other said, sometimes talking privately with the teacher might help.

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I have to say for those who remember my problems with overheating recently that I do actually own warm up gear, and I actually had to use it for the first time in a long time at Adult Dance Camp, and not just during lunch but in a couple of cooler classes.

I do recognize the need to keep ones muscles warm and I think it is a little barbaric not to allow adult students to keep warm. We ought to know when we need them or not.

I'd thought of mentioning wearing two pair of tights if just to keep warm in a very strict studio.

I'll soon be back in the studio where I can't get enough clothes off to be comfortable and not "over exposed" in a legal sense.

I don't like going without a skirt at all, but I have done so accidentally a couple of times lately. Halfway through a morning class last week I was checking the floor to see if mine had fallen off only to realize I hadn't put one on.

As to my bit of loose lower abdomen that bugs me when I am in a unitard, I found a suitably controlling and feather light undergarment to take care of that without showing panty lines.

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Yeah, it's ridiculous that she has that kind of policy for Adults.

Hello, we don't have 18 year old bodies here...

 

But it would be sad if you stop ballet just because of that :) I would suggest talking to her, or writing a letter and giving it to her.

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Just my USD 0.02:

 

A turned in or torqued knee or ankle is dangerous for any Dancer. How can a teacher spot a dangerous flaw under layers of wool and acrylic?

 

I've gotten my fingers caught in the bow of a skirt during partnering. A partner once complained about my claddagh ring, I took it off immediately.

 

Out of respect for the teacher, if they say take the warmups off, please take them off.

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I'm surprised that an adult class would be that strict about dress code. I hope it will prove to be an opportunity for you to let go of the tapes in your head that tell you to cover up, though. Your post doesn't sound terribly healthy with regards to your self-image. I can relate to that kind of self-talk, and it isn't healthy nor does it serve us well in the grand scheme of life.

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I need legwarmers to cover up my calves, shorts or a skirt to hide my thighs, and a sweater or rolldown warmup pants to cover my middle. Sometimes arm warmers. Most of it comes off as I get hot, except perhaps the skirt or shorts. It's never really been an issue before because I still choose things that are tight enough so my lines and joints are visible. I know that I need this extra class in order to keep improving, but I am by no means a rebel and would never dream of going against a teacher's expectations. I am on the verge of unregistering, I'm not sure what to do. Without my warmups I feel so exposed and vulnerable.

Once again, from a teachers' point of view, I beg to differ with what many have said about not being able to properly view your body-perhaps many do not know what the teacher should be looking at in the first place, and many "old school" teachers were brought up using tactics that would "never fly" in the classroom in this day and age(like the cane to whack people in the foot, kneecap or any number of vunerable locations of small bones and/or joints in the body).

 

Calves are a muscle and are going to vary greatly from person to person, as are thighs. Muscle tissue is made up of dense layers of striated tissue. As I stated previously, working in cold climatic classroom conditions causes the outermost layers of muscles to contract, and thus for example in plie, making it possible to injure the soft tissues of the achilles tendon and lower gastrocnemius by having small tears form. A legwarmer will provide just that little bit of added protection. In addition, the thighs are made up of many muscle groups working together, including the gluteaus maximus, medius, and minimus. Keeping them warm at the beginning of a wokout(which you state that by the time you are "hot" you are down to a leotard, tights and skirt) allows the fibers to relax and work at their full capacity.

 

As for alignment, I think that this term is often used in a manner which many do not fully understand. Alignment refers to the spacial placement of the bones, most importantly the spine, but also the bones of the extremity in regards to making sure that the body is held vertically from the floor, supported by the bones of the feet(and don't we all wear ballet slippers to class?- if the teacher really wanted to see the articulation of our feet, we'd do barre barefoot), weight falling vertically from the pelvis down through the leg. A good teacher should certainly be able to view a dancer from the side and be able to tell if their pelvis is tipped, the ribcage open and forward and the knees bent unless there are obstructions of "loose" clothing that gaps or hangs over parts of the body. When looking at a dancer from the side, if they are standing upright in any position(save postions like attitude derriere and arabesque), correctly aligned bones line up from the top of the ear to the ankle bone with out joints such as the shoulder, hip or knee distorting the vertical line.

 

Shape is different from alignment and this is probably where some misconception comes into play. Shape can be linear or rounded and that IS where the joints come into play. Joints allow the muscles to shape the bones into different "pictures". Joints require warming up for a different reason. There is a fluid in the joints that allows them to move over each other smoothly and without pain, synovial fluid. It works like oil, in that it lubicates the joints. Again, when the body has not moved in a certain way over a certain period of time, it requires more lubrication of the joints. Unfortunately, as we age, we require more time to get the oil and the joints going. One more reason to get those parts warm if we want to avoid injury and be able to move through space at our optimum capacity.

 

Sorry, I get very disgusted when I hear of rigidity of teacher, especially of adults, who want to train them as "they were trained back in the day". Just as adults are of a different mindset than a teenager, their bodies are as well and they deserve to be taught by people who have an understanding of their needs(perhaps a college level developmental psychology class would benefit those wishing to teach adults as well).

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That is so true! I find now that I have to do a warm-up at the gym before going to ballet class, and when I don't, I really do feel it. Even WITH the 45 minute to hour warm-up prior, I find it hard-going through to degage at the barre, at the least.

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