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Ballet Talk for Dancers

I feel kinda stupid asking this question but...

Guest MasterPuppeteer

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Guest MasterPuppeteer

...what do the pros really, and I mean REALLY think of us? Are they laughing behind our backs? Do they think we're a little silly/pathetic for pursuing our inner ballerina? Do they feel contempt for us for having given up dancing only to realize our mistake too late in life?


Okay, okay, I know I shouldn't be concerned about them or anyone else's opinions. I should just dance, right? But I can't help thinking these thoughts, though. *I* feel that way. I feel a little pathetic for indulging my inner ballerina. I feel a little delusional for wanting to go on pointe after all these years/decades. I feel slightly silly for donning the pink tights and leotard when I see my 5-year old wearing the same thing. SHE looks cute, while I look...silly.


I'm hoping you all will understand how I feel and not just brush it off with a, "Don't worry about it, just dance!" Did anyone else feel this way when you started back up? A little background on myself: both my parents were engineers and saw no value in dance aside from the improvement in my posture. At age 10, my mother declared that I was done, and I haven't put on ballet shoes since (I'm now 36). I've danced hip hop mostly in the interim, but I just now restarted ballet when the urge to do it again overpowered me after watching DD in classes. :blushing:


Thanks for listening/reading.

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  • eunheejun


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While waiting for some pros to post ...


What do professional basketball players think of amateurs horsing around with one-on-one and pickup games? How about those people who play their guitar at parties, or join informal jam sessions? Softball leagues vs. pro ballplayers? I just can't see any problem - or any "real" difference.


My two cents.

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I've thought exactly the same thing, MasterPuppeteer. My class goes in just as the company classes leave, and I always feel embarrassed at the professionals seeing us as our class is starting, and wonder if it looks a bit pathetic to them.


I also sometimes wonder whether teachers in adult classes I've gone to (who were all professionals) sometimes look and think 'yuck!' - wrong body type, not flexible enough, not coordinated enough, etc. etc.

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I must admit that when I was in Richmond, in the Pas de Deux class, those thoughts crossed my mind. But the professionals in the class were so accommodating. What I saw, and heard, from the gentlemen from the company and local uni was what looked to be something of admiration that we would try something like this at our ages/sizes.


I must say I received a lovely compliment from my partner after the little performance and did wonder if he was just saying it to make me feel good. However, after working WITH him for a couple of sessions, I really do think he was sincere.


I think that there likely would be some unpleasant folk who would think "less" of us, on seeing us, but then they would probably think that way of anyone, not just us older and/or bigger people. My overall experience from my teachers here, the teachers in Richmond, the teachers I took with in the UK and Australia, were that we were "troopers" rather than "pathetics."


That said, I won't don pink tights until I've lost at least one more dress size!! LOL!

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Also while waiting for teachers and pros to post...


"I also sometimes wonder whether teachers in adult classes I've gone to (who were all professionals) sometimes look and think 'yuck!' - wrong body type, not flexible enough, not coordinated enough, etc. etc."


I also used to worry about this - and was answered well by a posting earlier, from one of the moderators. What I have found (from teachers at least) is that they are in any class to TEACH (not necessarily to produce professionals - after all, only a tiny fraction of all the pupils they teach, of any age, will eventually turn to classical ballet as a career). I have found that as long as one tries hard and with commitment, and especially listens to and applies corrections, then the teacher will also treat you with commitment and respect.


The only time there was a supercilious (sp??) attitude from anyone was from young (18-19) yr old ballet university students who occasionally attended adult class - they seemed to project the idea that the greater the distance that they could put between them and us, the greater their chances of eventual professional success.


But still, it would be nice to hear from teachers and pros on this, because I'm just second-guessing their response.




Added later after Ripresa's reply below: "Life is too short to worry about what other people think.. unfortunately, most people don't realize this until they get real old."

Yes, that's why I waited until I was into my 50s before taking up ballet.

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Life is too short to worry about what other people think.. unfortunately, most people don't realize this until they get real old.


There's always going to be snarkiness. I'll admit to being snarky when I walk down the streets and see people wearing clothes they shouldn't: spandex, muffin tops, clothes too young for them.

Or finding out that your parents and pastor are on facebook and myspace.


But frankly, who cares. Besides, most dancers seem to have major body self-esteem issues. At a show I was at, this young slender 18 year old was complaining about how big her hips were. I think most of them worry more about their bodies. And if they do feel disgust or pathetic-ness about adult dancers... then, whatcha gonna do about it? They'll get old soon enough :lol: And then most of them will either be taking open classes like the rest of us, or not dance.

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Well, as a former pro and now teacher, I can only say that I greatly admire most of my adult students for their drive, perserverance and for their courage to do something out of their comfort zone!


I enjoy teaching them; sometimes it is a challenge, and that is what makes it so special.


Teachers who mainly teach on-track pre-professionals have a different experience, I think. (I have had a few such students)

With adults, esp. those who are mainly beginners, one has to find with them a way to manage things, though the physical attributes are not always ideal; or often not even near-ideal. That should not make a difference! There are ways around almost all limitations!

That is what makes it so beautiful, don't you think?


(I am also older now, with arthritis and other "issues", so perhaps it also helps me to feel a bit what my students may be feeling)



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Mmmhhh, I am not a pro but your question is really interesting: I wonder too. I just know from myself that I get annoyed very quickly when people want to explain me the law and how right they are (especially when they are not. BTW I'm a lawyer). There I see myself as the pro but the situation is different there (it's like other people think they can teach me about the thing I studied for many years).


I just remember my SI where I really had troubles in one of the classes and I was constantly thinking that this teacher just has to be annoyed by me (she had a great career as a soloist and the other teacher is a RAD major examinator now after another career as a soloist). I was embarassed most of the time dancing in their class but when one of the walked over at the end of the SI took me in her arms and congratulated me for taking the challenge and stay in her class, I realized that she did not look down on me or so.

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I for one love the adults! They are one of my favorite groups to teach. I love the enthusiasm, their commitment and their endless questions :innocent: And even if they have an parent waiting for them outside, I have yet to see a parent push their child into the studio :wink: Seriously, I don't know any pros that look down on the adults. The only time has been the occasional adult who doesn't respect boundaries; some teachers/pros are more comfortable with 'outside' contact than others.

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I have no idea what pros think of non-pros. I doubt that as a group of non-identical humans, that they have universal thoughts, which is to be expected. I've been in a lot of classes with professionals and my guess is that very very few (if any) have negative feelings about we non-professionals.


Pretty much all people go to ballet class for selfish reasons. People want to improve or maintain their skill level or simply enjoy the experience of class. Most everyone's thinking is inward and non-judgmental about other people. All people are thinking about the combinations and what they want to do and work on.

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I'm a young professional. I don't often take classes with adult amateurs, but do occasionally. I do sometimes feel annoyed or frustrated when a class is clearly billed as being advanced-prof. level and there are adults who are just as clearly not at that level taking the class.


Aside from that, though, I'm really impressed by adults who take up ballet, or who return to it after a long hiatus. I began dancing as a little child and went straight through a pre-pro school to join a company. I know a lot about ballet and I feel confident in the ballet world (mostly!) I can't imagine, at this point in my life, suddenly taking up opera singing, or football, or gymnastics. I would feel foolish and self conscious. So therefore I have the very greatest respect for people who are so devoted and can get past this self-consciousness and focus on learning a new and difficult skill. I find it very admirable.

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I really really admire all of you...I think how great it would be if I could put on a leotard and do what I loved to do without being OCD about it. Since I danced professionaly many moons ago, I couldn't bear to do a class and not have it look like I would have wanted it to... :wink:


There is even a 70 year old woman at the school who has the heart and smile of a true dancer and she makes me smile everytime I see her dancing away with not a care in the world...


P.S. Many many years ago, when I was ocd and enjoyed living that life, I was too preoccupied with myself as a dancer to even notice any other folks taking class. So all of you enjoy and love your class...and dance as "no-one is watching." :innocent:

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Hey, do people who take yoga/pilates get all self-conscious about what the pro yoga/pilates practitioners (I don't know what they are called) think of them? Who cares what professionals think of what we choose to do in our leisure time--none of their business whatsoever! In fact, I think they should be grateful that more adults are getting interested in this art thereby increasing the size of the teaching market. I heard that the average retirement age for female American dancers is 28 now. Considering that many of them turn to teaching after their stage career is over, the more students there are, the better it is for them!


Happy dancing!


Eun Hee

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That is such an interesting question! MasterPuppeteer, as you can see, there are many of us having the same thoughts! Me included. I have, after taking classe from my early 20s up to now when I am in my late 20s, noticed that there certainly is difference in teacher's attiudes. Some teachers who are used to professionals or teach "traditionally" at pre-pro schools can be very intimidating and not realising that even though I am not having flat 5th or leg up to my ear I am still trying and working hard. Not doing those thing doesn't mean I am not trying, only that I simply don't have the physical ability. (I am very not suited for ballet and is after 6 yrs in ballet still struggling with 85 degrees of extensions).


One very intimidating experience was when I did pdd classes with pre-pro students who were ranged from 14-19 yrs. Some of them were very nice and some were definitely wondering what we were doing there. The funny thing was that the nicest girl was also the most talented one. I guess that when you are confident you can "afford" to be generous to us less fortunate ones ;) So I suppose that is as Serendipity said: it is more about that individual than "in general".


However, I can definitely understand you frustation dancer5. I guess it is the frustration because people clearly are in the wrong level and since we are living in a "dicatorship of majority" the teacher will give the class according to the majority and you won't get the class you expected.


Off topic

The other week I had a strange experience. I am not sure what that says about me. There was a girl in her late teens saying to her friends that her mom will be attending for class. She said it would be very intimidating as her mother is a former prima ballerina. "wow" I thought. It is always of such inspiration to watch better dancers working in class. (I have taken hobby-classes where sometimes professionals join and also one class togther with a former principal, now in her 60s). So this girl's mum turns up for class and I can't help to feel a tiny bit intimidated as well. Then it turns out the mother in question has poorer extensions, non-pointed feet, about 45 degrees of turnout and remembers combos worse than me. Her arms and port the bras were OK (better than mine ;) ), but definitely not to the standards as the ex-dancers I've seen previously. If I had only taken classes with her without overhearing her daughter's comment, I would have thought "That's a brave adult beginner who's reached to the intermediate level just like me".


What has been bugging me is I can't figure out if the mother is really a former "prima ballerina" or if the daughter in question was just bragging. Because I always thought "once a dancer, always a dancer". Somehow I am also a bit ashamed of thinking in that way and judging my peers in my class. That is exactly what I don't want others to do with me!


Oh and edited to add: At least we adult beginners are always looked upon with astonishment by our non-dancer friends ;-). I had a colleague saying to me the other day: "You are a funny person. You start things without prior experience when you are an adult." I was talking about my total lack of talent when it comes to hitting ###### (seems as the software censured the word for the yellow things you hit in tennis for me :-( ) as I've just started taking tennis lessons. They all know I have started dancing late in life as well. Well, it is so much more satisfying to do something you certainly lack the natural ability and talent for. No matter what; you will certainly improve and every single small progress is due to hard work only. You don't need to feel that you "threw away talent" just because you didn't work hard enough.

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Of course I agree with Gary and can't speak for anyone besides myself; but I often take class with aspiring adults and really love the dedication and hard work put into a passion which is essentially, only a hobby. I hope to be you guys some day. I also hope to grow past the body image hang ups as many adult dancers have (or at least, appear to have!)


The only thing that annoys me a little is when adult dancers (well actually, I think I'll rephrase that) dancers in general, lack class etiquette, and spatial awearness. This happens more in often in adult classes for obvious reasons. These things are to be learnt just as technique is and most of time I am understanding that beginning adults are still developing these skills.

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