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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Trouble with barre after years of no dance

Miss S

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Hello. I'm an adult ballet dancer...barely. I took ballet for three years when I was a little girl, and over 10 years later I have returned. Of course ballet came extremely easy to me when I was younger. Now I am 27, and I am thrilled to finally be doing what I've missed for so long, but I suppose I need some opinions. I dance with girls that are a little more than 10 years younger than me. I started in the teen beginner class for half a season last year. This year the instructor moved me up to an intermediate class. Here's the problem: I can't find the one when the music starts. That makes me forget the combo we were just given, and you can forget about paying attention to form as I'm all nerves thinking of counting music and steps. You would probably be in pain to watch me! I realize my story is not the normal adult ballet dancer story, but does this sound normal to be fighting with? Will the music counts and combo memorization come easier so that I can concentrate on technique? I don't want to hold the class back, but I want to keep trying. I'll mention that the rest of the class doesn't do a whole lot better - some do, but not all. Any thoughts are muchly appreciated! Dancingly to you. :lol:

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Miss S!!!!! Congratulations to you for coming back to ballet!!!



I think this thread will be of some help to you:


Music Theory for Adult Students

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And another welcome to the Adult Dance Students forum, Miss S.


I think your story is very familiar to a lot of us here. Picking up something you remember from childhood can be both hugely enjoyable and very frustrating. Be reassured that the frustration gets better -- never quite disappears, but your body does start to get it, after maybe 6 months or so.


With the musicality question -- could you think of it via breathing? I was always taught in ballet as a child that the two (or sometimes 4) counts in to an exercise are a breath. If you're doing an exercise with your arm in bras bas, you breathe in as you raise your working arm to demi seconde, and then breathe out as you bring it back to bras bas. Similarly, if you working arm is in second, then breathe in as you bring your arm to first, and then out as you take your arm to second.


Then you're ready to start the legs moving together with the arms. And the head, and the core, and your eyes ...! ballet is complicated, and it takes time to co-ordinate everything. I tell myself to keep breathing, and it really does help.

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"I can't find the one when the music starts."


Not quite sure what this means, but do you mean you are not sure where the beat of "1" (to start dancing on) comes after the musical introduction?


I find that most pieces used in class have a pretty obvious and simple structure, and I wonder if you've not been listening to ballet class-style music for a long time, so are not practiced at picking this out. Maybe you could get a CD of standard ballet class music and listen to it at home, to get used to the structure of the pieces.



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Instead of looking for the "one", try starting with the "and", or the "5,6,7,8". Everything, with the exception of waltz music, in beginning ballet is done in four or eight counts. As previously stated, try listening to some classical music (except Strauss or other waltz music) and listen for the four count measures. Waltz music is done in 3/4 time - meaning there are three counts to the measure, so avoid that for the time being. Once you get it, most likely you'll realize it is very easy to pick up.

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...... Here's the problem: I can't find the one when the music starts. .....


I posted something thinking that you might be talking about the barre intro's. But re-reading your post I don't think so, sorry.

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  • 1 month later...

I've finally made my way back to this forum! I apologize for not thanking everyone for their great advice in a timely fashion. I am starting to hear the musical phrasing better (this refers to my problem with finding the first beat in 16 counts). I still have trouble remembering combos, but I keep trying. What is funny is that I can sometimes do the combo at home without music, but put me in class with 11-14 year olds (I'm 27) and play music...then I'm all out of whack. I get too nervous and try to overthink, but we'll see what the end of this season brings. The worst part of my dancing right now...pirouettes!! Oh my...they are hideous. Thanks again to everyone...you really helped. :-)

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