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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Requesting Groups


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There have been many posts about students not being aware of spacing and coming too close in center. Sometimes there is ample room and the crowding occurs because of lack of knowledge (or respect) on the part of the other dancer. However, my issue is because the crowding is unavoidable due to the number of dancers in the room. One of my teachers regularly keeps us in one large group for all center work (except grande allegro, done in twos or threes). Instead of dividing us into smaller groups, he'll ask us to form three lines (or more, depending on the number in the class) and alternate the line that's in front for each repetition or combination. This is fine for the first exercise, but each time the group changes, the first line creeps further and further back - at some points standing in the middle of the room so the back lines are smushed behind them. When I'm in one of the back groups, I almost always have to ask the front line to step forward just so I have enough space, but it is still very crowded. When I'm in the front line, I try to make a point to stand far enough forward so the lines behind me have room.


Sometimes there aren't a lot of students, so it's not too bad. However, some classes (like the one I had this week) are well-attended and crowded to the point where the only time I felt I could really dance was when I was in the front line. This week during adagio we were doing a promenade in arabesque and I couldn't fully extend my leg without kicking someone. While I wouldn't mind staying in front forever, that's not really fair to everyone else. (I personally love being in front so I can concentrate better.)


I would really like the teacher to either 1) divide the class into groups or 2) notice the extreme crowding that occurs in the back each time the lines change and space us accordingly. Another student has asked the instructor to use groups, and has mentioned it to the studio manager but it hasn't made a difference.


I could certainly approach him about this again and hope that the situation improves. But if the crowding continues, what do you recommend for dancing with limited space? I really like the class and the instructor (other than this...) but it's getting increasingly more irritating.

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In my eyes, this should be something the teacher needs to adress. I have a big class too which I teach and since they are beginners, they always have problems to use the space properly so they stand too close, too much in front or too much back (well, usually back).


However, since your teacher doesn't seem to do anything, I would ask again (maybe he forgot?) or I would talk to the other students (so that everyone is aware of the problem...you know, there seem to be people who do not mind sittiung on top of each other).

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We have very small rooms at the moment, with obstructions in odd places, due to being in temporary quarters.


I have asked students to move forward and if they don't, I then say (granted, it's teens so there's a difference in how they respond!!), "Since you won't use that space, do you mind if I take it? I have no room here." Yesterday, I had to reiterate over and over to "clarify" with the teacher "So this exercise will have us move back, right? So we need to start more forward?" Teacher finally got the hint and told the front line to move forward.


It's very annoying. I only have this problem at the one school - not at either of the other two I have attended (one of which I still attend).


I am not averse to asking out loud myself if others do not make space, though, even in an adult class.

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I am lucky, the two ballet teacher (husband and wife) and terriffic about making sure there is enough space. Definitey easier in the more advanced classes where we "space ourseves" - if the class is crowded we also tend to do things in lines that alternate after each combination. Space to dance is absolute more of an issue in the beginner class, however as of late the teachers have be talking more about this and trying to get everyone to pay more attention while traveling across the floor.

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I'll inject a bit of levity in this discussion if I may. My teachers are pretty good about the subject, and frequently encourage us to be more aware of the other dancers. I am below average in this capacity, and last week got an extra bit of education on the subject. In my Modern class, we were doing a turning one-legged handstand. As I turned into the handstand I was just a bit too close to the woman now in front of me and didn't notice it quickly enough. I caught her heel right on the point of my chin. No harm done except my chin - and my ego - are still a little tender... :yes:

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Reebs, I'd really encourage you to talk with your teacher. At least once, give it a try. Sometimes teachers need reminders. As a dancer and as a teacher, spacing is a pet peeve of mine, but I probably have some blind spot my students could point out. :yes: I'd rather they mentioned it, and reminded me, than not.


Alternatively, you can either take your leg lower or crank it up higher for those promenades! The closer it is to your body, the less space you need around you!

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Speak to your teacher and hopefully he/she will talk to the class about spacing. As with everything in ballet, it also takes some time for a group to learn how to space out, but think positive.

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A couple of thoughts. Though it might not feel good at first, I do think dancing in a closely spaced group is a good exercise as I think it helps one gain a sense of the group as a whole rather than just on yourself. Of course this really only works when the group is all more or less about the same in ability. Sensitivity to others and feeling that you are part of a larger and more important whole is an important dance skill in my opinion.


Being a male, of course verbal communication is not a strength of mine. When I think someone around me should move a bit for whatever reason, I just give them a light touch and wa-la they move. It’s not a big deal.


Finally, though I’ve been in relatively few really packed classes, I do recall once being in a ballet class and doing a promenade realizing that my leg might just come in contact with my neighbor. I just bent the leg (clearly not good technique) and continued around. The world did not end. I remember that just because it was an example of how crowded the room was that day. Normally the class was in a much larger room, but at the time the larger room was being used, so we were herded into a smaller room. Made for good stories.

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Thanks to all for your feedback and suggestions. The class is varied in ability - it ranges from company members (occasionally) and very experienced adults to barely above beginner adults. Hmm, this could be part of the problem. The advanced students (company members & adults) gravitate toward the first line for the first exercise, and the less experienced students hang in the back. It makes sense that as the advanced students move to the back, those with less experience are hesitant to take their place in front. Perhaps if the advanced students were more spread out (a few of us in each line), we could help guide the others.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've seen worse Reebs, short students and tall students should not dance together in Grande Allegro, the tall dancers would have to dial it down and the short dancers would be dancing at the edge of exhaustion trying to keep up.


I've seen dancers who barely get their legs off the ground. They tend to shuffle more than dance. Very difficult to dance behind them.

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I've seen worse Reebs, short students and tall students should not dance together in Grande Allegro, the tall dancers would have to dial it down and the short dancers would be dancing at the edge of exhaustion trying to keep up.


I've seen dancers who barely get their legs off the ground. They tend to shuffle more than dance. Very difficult to dance behind them.



The shufflers, omg, and along with the shufflers, the folks who stand in line to go across the floor and just watch. I know and respect that we all take class for different reasons, but there are 2 folks who pop up in my classes who either shuffle across the floor, holding up everyone, or who don't have a clue, and try to do the combinations across the floor in the middle of the line and most times come close to either bumping into someone else or do bump into someone. I find it most disconcerting when in the beginner class ( not much if at all in the intermediate classes) someone stands at the beginning of the line, but won't go and won't move out of the road for someone else to go. Several of us have tried standing at the head of the line, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. As a side note/comment, what about folks who constantly change sides of the bar in order to see themselves....sometimes this particular class is so crowded that switching sides isn't/shouldn't be an option. Yes one person insists on doing this everytime he is there, they even go so far as to tell people not to stand on opposite side. Thoughts comments.....

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I've said this before, I think, but I really think it would be beneficial for beginners' classes to issue everyone with an etiquette sheet. It's downright necessary for those who have never attended classes, and a useful refresher for those who have. I would also imagine it would be a good way for the studio/school to feel happy that they've made sure everyone is informed about safety and acceptable behaviour.


I'm confused, SharonB, someone is moving from one barre to another inbetween exercises so he can see himself in the mirror? And making others move so he can see himself? That just sounds rude (and hilariously narcissistic); the teacher should put the kibosh on it.

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I went to a class this summer where the teacher actually had us all switch back and forth for each leg, so that we could observe in the mirror. But that was the way the class itself was run.


For one person to do it on a barre with other people is just not on. Someone needs to jump on that person from a great height!


Tonight we were shoved into a smaller room. A lovely gal who's a rank beginner just didn't quite understand that each time I moved up to get more room, she wasn't supposed to move. I politely asked her if she could please move back (she had the whole center of the room practically to herself, at that point, with the rest of us around edges) so I could have room. She looked like she'd been awakened and very quickly moved. She just needed to be made aware.


Since we had no mirrors at the temp place, apart from one of the rooms, space is difficult for these beginners to understand. I wish we'd done tonight's center work in groups - especially the turns - since I think the crowded feel of the room made me pull back from what I'd been doing to be successful in my doubles. (I'll grab any excuse for tonight's pathetic performance LOL!)

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"I'm confused, SharonB, someone is moving from one barre to another inbetween exercises so he can see himself in the mirror?"


I've done this. And I'm a "he", but I dont think I'm the one being referred to, as I dont think our paths have crossed. And I dont think its necessarily narcissistic.


I've only done it with a centre barre, where one can duck under to go to the other side, in a small class where there is plenty of space and where I am well known and accepted, and its not affecting anyone else.


Why is it a good idea? Because somehow I usually start off facing the mirror with my left hand on the barre. Exercises are started like this, and marked like this, so it is good to do it this way because you can check in the mirror when you first do an exercise. But the result is that we get much more time practicing the right side of our bodies than the left side (and since most of us are right handed, the right side is usually much more skilled to start with). And in particular, I find I need to see in the mirror to help me stop my hips moving in fast barre movements. So I end up stable when I'm working my right side, but not stable when working my left. But I think anyway, that if you need the check one side of your body, you need to check both. Not that I usually do, I should point out.



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I find it most disconcerting when in the beginner class ( not much if at all in the intermediate classes) someone stands at the beginning of the line, but won't go and won't move out of the road for someone else to go.


YES! This makes me crazy, and was done repeatedly by one dancer in my last class (which was not a beginner class). The offender has all the natural facility for ballet in the world but always looks like she has her head is in the clouds, so you never know whether she's going to start doing the exercise or not. If you want to mark the exercise before taking your turn, please do it out of the way! The flipside is when a large group of 6-8 people will all prance out to do an exercise that's meant to be done in 3s or 4s. Is it so hard to look around and count?


Sometimes I really think groups should be assigned from the start, even in an open class format, and kept for all of the centre exercises.


And it would help to prevent another one of my pet peeves: people who run around to do every single exercise twice for every one time the class goes through it. Now, I'll sometimes go back for a second run at an exercise (if I messed it up or if I was given a correction the first time that I want to try to apply or if my path across the floor was blocked by someone who wasn't travelling enough or something like that), but certainly not always! This annoys me even more when it's clear that time is running out and that even a couple of extra groups doing the grande allegro a second time will prevent the whole class from going through it again.

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