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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Late Beginner


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Hey all - just another late beginner here. I'm very happy to have finally found a forum where I can actually get feedback to my specifics questions! You'd be surprised how many different Google searches you have to run before you can find what you're looking for with "men" and "ballet" being your chief operators.



Who I am:

I'm 22 and just started law school this August in Washington, D.C. I cheered on a nationally competitive cheer team in undergrad and decided to carry that over into law school. So yes, I'm in law school and cheering...and now I want to learn ballet.


Why I'm here:

I basically watched Center Stage one too many times and since I enjoyed watching it repeatedly I thought maybe there was a connection there.


My experience:

I had my first ballet class tonight at Washington Ballet. It was an adult beginner class that takes drop-ins on a class by class basis. I was the only male in the class (not an issue in and of itself - see my concerns to follow for why I think it might be). I'm definitely intending to go back. The adult beginner class meets two days a week for an hour and fifteen minutes each time. I don't know if I can make both classes every week (practice and basketball games will inevitably interfere at some point) but I'll certainly be trying to make at least one.


My goals:

To try something new, learn to be lighter on my feet and experiment with an artistic form of expression. I don't have any delusions about becoming a professional but I wouldn't be opposed to doing some sort of performance in front of some sort of crowd at some sort of point in the future.


My concerns:

I'm 5'7'' (5'8'' on a good day) and around 190 lbs. I'm not a small guy (as you probably gathered from the preceeding stats) and from years of throwing girls into the air and holding them over my head I've developed some muscle that I'm worried might actually be prohibitive in ballet (specifically my quads - cheering will make your quads huge! - but also in my shoulders and upper back).


Also although I feel I'm fairly flexible by most male standards when I see some of the leg placement in ballet moves I don't see how I will ever be able to get my leg that high and hold it for quite that long.


Being in a class of predominantly female students (I understand this is the norm) will I be missing out on things more specific to male dancers? Is there any difference in the training at the earliest stages? At what point in technique acquisition do the classes shift into two different entities?


My turnout. It's pretty awful and whenever I'm changing position I have to consciously force myself back into it. Any tips for how to improve my turnout? Furthermore cheerleading has left one of my knees in rough shape and I hear engaging your turnout in the wrong way (knees v. hips) can be very bad for your knees. How can I ensure that I'm not damaging my knees while trying to get the most out of my turnout?



In closing:


Thanks for those of you who stuck it out through the above laundry list. I'm basically word vomiting at this point but its just so refreshing to have someone to vomit to. Anyone that can speak to anything I've mentioned above (or to anything that I haven't mentioned above) or just provide general tips, especially for the early stages, would be greatly appreciated.



Thanks again!



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Hi, Aston and welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers. :unsure:


Now that you've made the initial plunge, you're going to be discovering a lot of things about the art of ballet, and also your own body that you never even thought of before.


You've started at Washington Ballet; that's a good place to be, because you can count on getting the quality training you need there. Teaching adults is a specialty; they've been doing it there for years and are unlikely to propose anything unsafe. A lot of ballet training involves stretching, not only for the purpose of making muscles more flexible, but also to make them longer-looking and less lumpy. All the things you've listed under "concerns" will change and be made apparent to you as you go. Ballet training is a long slow process, seldom producing any results quickly, with the exception of the student realizing, "Hey, this is DIFFICULT!" You've already done that, so you're ahead of the game. Repetition and constant attention in class will take care of the rest.

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  • 2 months later...

I don't know if i am late in this response as your post is dated in October (And I visit these forums ever so often! haha), but I know when I started ballet my quads were ginormous from Football and weightlifting (250lb+squats and deadlifts etc....which I have stopped doing). Moreover, a year later of constant, appx. 3 ballet classes a week, my quads are leaner and, I feel my legs are stronger and healthier than when I was squating and lifting (more flexible etc.). When I first started my quads were so big I had a problem crossing legs in fifth, and now I no longer need to force it as my quads have adjusted to it by becoming lean. You will be surprised by how the body responds to this new foreign form of training so quickly!


P.S. I am about to start Dental School in the Fall and am happy to see that if other professionals (law school) can have time to take ballet class that I should be able to hold up the obsession as well!

Edited by Hans
Edited by Moderator to remove quote of entire previous post.
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