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NYC Adult Absolute Beginner Classes


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Hi everyone:


I apologize in advance for repeating a question I included in my introductory post, but Victoria suggested I might receive more information here. I'm 25, male, and fit; though I've been interested in ballet my whole life, my insecurity outweighed my desire to learn until recently. I have absolutely no dance experience, but I just began taking beginner classes in New York City.


While the Joffrey School markets its Adult "Basic Beginner" ballet classes to complete novices, the sessions I've attended still seemed too advanced for first-time dancers; the instructor took for granted the students' knowledge of positions and fundamentals, and the classes were often too crowded for her to note any individual student's form.


I enjoy the classes at Joffrey, but I would greatly appreciate suggestions for high-quality, open adult ballet classes in Manhattan (that focus specifically on technically correct execution and form) for absolute beginners, if indeed any exist. Ideally, I would like to approximate a strictly-formal classical ballet education in order to master basic movements and positions and avoid developing bad habits if it is possible at my age and outside the context of full-time study.


I understand that Alvin Ailey, Steps on Broadway, and Dance New Amsterdam, among others, offer very basic programs for beginners, but I have no way to determine the relative quality of instruction and focus on fundamentals each institution provides. Thank you in advance for your consideration and advice, and happy holidays!




Edited to remove weight in accordance with our policy.

Edited by JHC
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I'm looking around in some of our other forums, as well as this one, because I'm pretty sure there is a thread somewhere around here about just that!! :D


We'll get it figured out.

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You need to find a place with SMALL classes. That will allow the teachers to give you the attention you need as an absolute beginner.


Nowhere in the city has smaller classes more consistently than Ballet Academy East (BAE):


They have both morning and evening Basic Beginner classes. Don Paradise is pretty amazing teacher who goes back to the Ballet Russes, but they all are good teachers there. BAE's teachers are paid the same regardless of the number of students (they're kept happy, rather than being forced to teach around), and all classes have pianists, even if they're super-small. BAE essentially subsidizes its adult program with its youth program. The idea is so the parents of the students always have an opportunity to study ballet as well. Nowhere else in NYC will you get so much service for your $15 (or whatever the cost is) in terms of good studios, small classes and happy teachers.


Carol Sumner teaches a "Very Beginner" class at Ballet Arts on Sunday afternoon:


You could probably go to any of her classes at Ballet Arts, once she gets to know you. Carol Sumner danced for a genius choreographer, and it's worth it to take her classes just to get an understanding of what that experience was like for her.


Helga Wong also teaches a beginner class on Sunday afternoons at 2pm, at Manhattan Movement Center. Their studios are brand new and spectacular. And Helga is really smart and a really good teacher, she will absolutely give you the attention you need and teach you well. And she will teach you correctly. She was teaching almost 30 classes per week, but she's cut back to just 1 for the time being, so this is your chance:



I understand that Alvin Ailey, Steps on Broadway, and Dance New Amsterdam, among others, offer very basic programs for beginners, but I have no way to determine the relative quality of instruction and focus on fundamentals each institution provides.


These schools have dimishing levels of brand identity today in NYC. Most teachers teach at multiple schools in order to make ends meet, hence the lack of brand identity. Steps and BDC can feel like a machine, focused more on moving students in and out the door (and collecting their class fees) than on teaching. Ailey has a great reputation for dance students, but they can also be large and machine-like. I have not been to DNA. Ballet is not the primary focus for BDC and DNA, and ballet class quality can sometimes suffer in such an environment. But regardless of these caveats, all the schools you listed offer quality instruction with quality teachers.


Almost all teachers in NYC are competent (it's a very competitive environment). But that doesn't make them all great; the great ones are still hard to find (and a teacher who is great for one student may not be great for another). Again, I would focus on finding a school in which you work well with one or two (no more) teachers and can get the attention you need to improve. I would also look for a place with a good community and a friendly "vibe." Finally, location really does count for something. Other things being equal, if you can save 15 minutes getting to and from one school over another --- it can be worth it.

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Hi JHC, and welcome to the Adult fora in BT4D. There have been many requests such as yours (I've asked a similar question about levels at NYC studios). I'm attaching a whole lot of links of earlier threads which might be helpful.


However, I think that what you need to do is try a few other classes & teachers. And look out for things like the Steps basic introductory workshops. Places like Steps and the Broadway Dance Centre have an excellent range of teachers & levels, but it might take a little time to develop a rapport with a particular teacher. I take classes at various studios in NYC when I'm there (about a month a year), and find that although those big studios are crowded, the actual teachers I've done class with are careful and dedicated. I found Ms Cathy Sullivan really good, for example, although for her beginners' class you might need some previous training in the very basics.


And of course, as we've often noted here, beginners' classes are often taken by people who are clearly waaaay beyond Beginners standard, and that can be intimidating! BUt be reassured that most people -- as they write on this MB -- aren't really looking at anyone else, but concentrating on their own dancing.


I've never done the Joffrey courses, but one long-time member has had very good experience of them. I'll try to find her threads. Could the level be higher than you had assumed because the students started at the beginning of the academic year in September? Maybe you need to find the start of a basic course, and have a hat wit the teacher before the class starts? January may be a really good time to try that, as there'll be loads of people getting back into exercise and dance after New Year resolutions!


I did a quick search and found these threads. I think there are ore, which I'll post as I find them.

Good luck, and welcome to the 'Hotel California' of ballet!

Class at Ballet Basics and DansArts / Sunday classes?


Taking my first class


Explanation of levels/classes in NYC


Recommendations for class in NYC


Ballet classes in NYC


First time back

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Just adding: you know about the Steps on Broadway workshops? I really like the atmosphere of Steps -- it feels a bit intimidating at first, but it's really buzzy once you get used to it! And they have marvellous teachers.



Steps Absolute Beginners workshops

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It's true that beginner classes are often taken by non-beginners. That's not a problem in and of itself. The problem is when the teachers make the class less beginner due to those peoples' presence.


I have taught absolute beginner class. Rest assured, if it's done right, no non-beginner in his or her right mind would stay there. The class does not "flow" like a normal class because everything must be explained. It is an 8-week course that takes students step by step through the basics, starting with plie, it is not an open class. And I regularly work with students to make sure they understand how their bodies work in the positions and movements.


Many students graduate to regular beginner after the first 8 weeks. Others need to re-take the second 8 weeks before they graduate / are kicked out. After that, they're prepared to go to a regular beginner's class, in which it matters less whether or not there are more advanced students.


That is why I advocating finding a class billed as ABSOLUTE beginner, and making sure it is small.

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Thanks for your help everyone! I'm going to try Ballet Academy East's Introduction to Ballet course tonight and Alvin Ailey's Absolute Beginner Ballet course tomorrow to supplement the Joffrey classes. If those options are still too advanced, I might give the Steps Real Ballet Basics course a whirl starting 1/11. Wish me "merde."



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Let us know how it goes!!!! And MERDE!!!!!

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And you're SO lucky you have classes this week!


I'm already starting to get withdrawal symptoms :P


Hope your classes work for you, it really helps having a strong, thorough basis from which to work.

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