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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Beginners' classes in London


Ella77

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Hi all. Just to let you know, I have done a search and read a lot of posts, but many of them seem to be from a few years ago, so I was hoping for some more up to date views. I hope that's ok!

 

Basically, I can get to RAD Battersea or Morley College fairly easily and their timetables are both fine for me, but I don't know which is 'best'. Obviously this is subjective and I'm sure they're both very good schools, but if I were looking for scheduled courses (not drop-in classes), with an emphasis on good technique, would one or the other suit me more? Can anybody here advise please?

 

Thanks

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Have you had previous dance experience or are you an absolute beginner? If the latter from what I can see from their class schedule, you might be better off starting with the Morley College classes, which are aimed at adult beginners. I actually wasn't aware that the RAD has adult beginner classes. I always thought that they are all about teaching their syllabus classes to children or older students with ballet training. Correct me if I'm wrong!

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It's okay, CoventGarden, and thank you for the information. :thumbsup:

 

Ella, we cannot tell you which is "best", but now that we know both schools have adult beginning classes, we can advise you to visit both of them. Meet the director or the adult class teacher, and watch a class. You should get a good idea from that which school would suit you the best. :)

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I don't study dance in London, but over the years many who have started as adult beginners have recommended Morley College on this board. But as Ms Leigh says, observe a class, or do a trial class at each studio. Or do both?

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I think you could probably ask to do a trial class -- most studios understand that.

 

And you'll be pleasantly surprised (I hope!) by how your ballet muscle memory will come back. I take a few advanced classes each week, but also what my studio calls an "Improvers" class, in which there are a couple of beginneragainers there, and it's wonderful to watch how it all comes back to them, gradually, each week.

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Hi Ella77 - I haven't been to classes at either RAD or Morley personally, since the locations aren't so good for me (more's the pity) but I have heard very good feedback about Morley and had a good chat with one of the course leaders from there at the Move It dance show in Olympia earlier this year (they had a stand there). Morley's courses are incredibly cheap since they get some government grants as a further education institution; their teachers are very experienced; and they offer good opportunities for progression including pointe class (if you'd ever be interested in working towards that) and a summer ballet intensive for adults which sounds brilliant.

 

I'm sure RAD would offer very good-quality teaching too, but I reckon Morley might just offer better value-for-money.

 

In any case, I would second the idea of asking to take a trial class or at least observe, before committing to a full (or half) term course.

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there are a couple of beginneragainers there, and it's wonderful to watch how it all comes back to them, gradually, each week.

Oh, that's good to know; thank you!

 

Morley's courses are incredibly cheap since they get some government grants as a further education institution; their teachers are very experienced; and they offer good opportunities for progression including pointe class (if you'd ever be interested in working towards that) and a summer ballet intensive for adults which sounds brilliant.

This is also great to know, thanks very much! Looking at the dates (and my finances) I wouldn't be able to start at Morley until the autumn, so I might go for the short adult beginners' course at the RAD for now- it's about 5 or 6 weeks so not too much commitment but not too long to wait either!

 

I got my shoes yesterday :). I'd forgotten I had problematically narrow feet for ballet shoes last time, and that came flooding back to me in the shop.

 

Thanks for the help.

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Make sure you let us know how it goes. It's always lovely to share people's journeys in dance.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, the first class was yesterday, and I said I'd update, so I hope nobody minds!

 

I was a little disappointed, actually. I was careful to choose a course that specifically stated it was for adult beginners, but when I arrived, half the class was made up of people who'd been taking that course for 18 months or so. There were 3 of us who were beginners (i.e. we hadn't taken a ballet lesson for at least 15 years!), and I was really hoping for some proper guidance and precision, i.e. starting with the basics, making sure we're pointing the foot properly, or that our posture is correct. Instead we just launched straight into the barre exercises (no warm-up), and carried on where the others had left off. By the end of the hour we were expected to do pirouettes. The teacher went really fast, and I felt like a fool (so did the other new people) because I couldn't keep up, and because of this the teacher decided to divide us into two groups for some of the exercises, which made the new people feel extra self-conscious; we'd been expecting everybody in the class to be beginners too, and to be singled out for not being able to do something when we hadn't been taught it was embarrassing.

 

I've paid in advance for the course (only 5 lessons) so I will go back, but to be honest I feel a bit discouraged right now. I think if I decide to carry on I'll switch to Morley College and see if they are any better for beginners.

 

(Sorry if that all reads as one big whine! I did have fun, and I definitely got a workout, so that's good :lol:.)

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Sorry to hear your first class wasn't all that great. Try not to be too discouraged; bear in mind there are always good days/bad days and good classes/bad classes - just because this one wasn't a good one for you, doesn't mean all the others will be like that. One of my regular teachers the other day encouraged a couple of new students in her class (which is a casual drop-in class, so there are always "old hands" mixed in with complete beginners & everything in between!) by saying "you're over the worst of it now - at least you know it will never be as bad as this again!" - and this is true. Next class you go to, you'll at least know what to expect! :lol:

 

Personally, I was seized by the urge to take up ballet at the wrong time of year to get onto any pre-booked introductory/beginners courses, unless I was willing to wait nearly three months. I wasn't willing to wait, so I plunged straight in to drop-in classes. It was a bumpy ride (pirouettes in my second-ever ballet class?!), but it's worked pretty well for me.

 

I think beginner level classes for adults in London (and probably other places) - whether they're block-booked courses or drop-ins - are a little hit-and-miss in that it's hard for any studio to cater for absolutely all levels, and categories such as "beginners", "improvers" or "level 1" "level 2" and so on, all become pretty blurred. I think that's absolutely fine though, as long as both the students and the teacher are willing to live with it.

 

You may also find that after a couple of classes, the teacher will start to give you some individual corrections (or directions) that are helpful; from experience I think it takes most teachers a couple of classes to properly "notice" a new student who would benefit from some additional help. If the teacher in this particular class doesn't work that way, well it's only a short term and you can cut your losses and go elsewhere.

 

I would also recommend (if the location would work for you) that in the meantime, you try Manor Studios in Clapham (manorballet.com) on a Wednesday night for the "Absolute Beginners" class with Brigitte. It's a very supportive & caring school and especially if you have a little chat with Brigitte before class, I'm sure you'll find the level of instruction you need to help you get back into the swing of things. That was where I went for my very first class, and a few others until I found some alternatives in a better location for me. You can just go there on a "drop in" basis & pay in cash for the class (they do like you to call or email to book your place first), or they offer discounts if you pay in blocks of 4.

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Can I put on my teacher's cap now and say that when I get new students who are obvious beginners - and it can happen that I get 12 year old and over beginner ballet students who can't cope with the really basic work that our 9 year old students do - I tend to let them alone the first class or two to let them find their feet and then I start guiding them and helping them. The first class is always a nightmare for them and I prefer to see how they get on and not embarrass them even more! I agree that perhaps the teacher should have let you and the others dance in a group with more experienced students so that you could copy, but perhaps she just wanted to see how you managed. I think you should finish the course and then see and don't be afraid to talk to the teacher - she may have been more impressed with you than you think! Anyway, good luck and welcome to the world of adult ballet!

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"you're over the worst of it now - at least you know it will never be as bad as this again!" - and this is true. Next class you go to, you'll at least know what to expect!

This is true- very good point!

 

I would also recommend (if the location would work for you) that in the meantime, you try Manor Studios in Clapham (manorballet.com) on a Wednesday night for the "Absolute Beginners" class with Brigitte. It's a very supportive & caring school and especially if you have a little chat with Brigitte before class, I'm sure you'll find the level of instruction you need to help you get back into the swing of things..

Wow, thank you! That location is much better for me, actually, as I'm on the same Tube line. I didn't know that place existed, and they have lots of classes by the look of it. The only complication is that I'm currently taking yoga at the same time on Wednesdays, but maybe when this yoga course finishes I can switch to another time for that. It will be great to go somewhere more local too, as it was a bit of a trek to and from Battersea yesterday in the pouring rain.

 

Have you tried the Russian workout class that they offer, by the way? Is it any good?

 

I tend to let them alone the first class or two to let them find their feet and then I start guiding them and helping them. The first class is always a nightmare for them and I prefer to see how they get on and not embarrass them even more! I agree that perhaps the teacher should have let you and the others dance in a group with more experienced students so that you could copy, but perhaps she just wanted to see how you managed.

Thanks, it's good to have a teacher's perspective. I actually felt that she was singling us out quite a lot, but that may be my perception of it as I'm quite shy, rather than the reality. She was very nice- some of the girls were really intimidating and borderline bitchy, though. I need to toughen up!

Edited by Ella77
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