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Ballet Talk for Dancers

"Big Guy" Class...


Chronus24

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I just had a discussion with a friend of mine immediately following this morning's men's class. He was saying how he enjoyed another male teacher's class (hence forth known as J) better than the one we just had (other teacher known as A), reason being the teacher we didn't have gives a "big guy" class. Now, with myself preferring A's class, I brought up the fact that both of A and J are quite large men themselves (both being well over 6 feet tall and built like beasts), but he replied that A doesn't give a "big guy" class, despite being a big guy himself. From my perspective, the differences between the classes are that J give very simple, cut-n-dry combinations, typically with slower tempos, while A gives more complex combinations, usually faster tempos (though today was actually on the slow side), and especially focuses on musicality and flow. So as I see it, a "big guy" class is just a euphemism/excuse for slow, ponderous movements that don't take a lot of thought or pay no heed to the music (this also might lead me into my other grip about how most guys think musicality is optional as long as you "keep on spinnin'!"...but I'll save that for later). My final observation that made me come to this conclusion is that my colleague I was discussing with is only around 5'11 to 6'0 ft tall, which is only an inch or two larger than myself, and he's of only a slightly larger build than me. So surely that small of difference can't cause gravity and physics to ravage him any much moreso than myself.

 

So what do yall think of this alleged "big guy" class?

 

(And PS, I like how they think my preference for Balanchine style classes is mildly flippant, yet having height-specific ballet classes is totally valid :( ...)

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As you're citing two different teachers here, it sounds to me as though we could be talking about differences between teaching styles of teachers, rather than a kind of syllabus-based distinction. A quick test would be to see how the teachers responded (if at all) if they had to trade classes.

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Hi Chronus

 

My thought is, "hey, you are fortunate enough to have 2 options for male instructors - what's the probelm?" :wink:

 

Being the (primarily) only male in class with only female instructors, rarely do I get any instruction in mens technique.

 

If I were you, I would go to both classes, retain the stuff I like, and not worry too much about the other stuff. :thumbsup:

 

Just a thought. . . :(

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Men need to dance with Bravura!!!!! Smaller guys tend to dance faster and focus on faster foot work. We all know that.

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It seems to me that both classes could be useful in different ways. I will say, though, that "big guy class" sounds ridiculous to me.

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MJ, I'm not sure if I understand what you're saying. Does this mean that short guys with fast footwork are not really manly? I'm also afraid that our ideas about how men "should" dance can often unnecessarily constrains mens' artistic expressive range. Bravura is just one of many many ways to dance; making it the preeminent part of one's dancing would seem to be narrow to me.

 

I also agree, "big guy dancing" seems a little ridiculous. One of the points of ballet training is to push your body's limits. We try to stretch our limbs longer, get our legs higher, move more smoothly in adagio, have faster cleaner footwork in petitie allegro, jump higher, etc. Everyone's body works differently and some people are better at some of these goals than others. But we typically try to train even harder in the things we're not so good at.

 

So many times I've heard students say that they have a hard time with some things because their body is special in some way that makes achievement in that area hard. For example, I know one guy with about 70 degrees of turnout total (I'm not kidding), who tells me his body is so special he can't turn out any more than that. I've seen him and I don't buy it; I think he just doesn't know how to work his turnout. For me, it was a big turning point in my dancing when I realized that my body, like everyone else's, had its plusses and minuses. But that there was really nothing so special about my body that made anything in ballet impossible for me. Then the only thing stopping me from achieving was a lot of focused work. But to get to that point, I had to stop believing in my own specialness.

 

Anyway, I don't believe that any guy is so big he can't improve at fast footwork --- something that has now become an essential part of ballet.

 

It's commonly assumed that teachers are only good at teaching others like themselves to dance like they do. That may be true for some teachers. But the best teachers (of anything) look at the world from their students' perspective, not their own. And by seeing the world from their students' perspective, good teachers can teach a wide range of students; ideally, anyone who comes down the pike. For example... I know a woman who teaches men's class, and I know a man who's considered to be a really good pointe teacher. Both are highly qualified dance professionals, and both are teaching things they never did themselves. In a related vein, I taught my dog to do a lot of things, but I've never been a dog; I taught her by seeking to understand the world through her eyes.

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