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Ballet Talk for Dancers

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I have always been interested in the performing arts. From playing instruments, singing in many choirs and performing in musical theater. But not until a few months ago was I exposed to ballet. As soon as the first male dancer came on stage, I knew I wanted to learn. Now, I enjoy learning things and perfecting things. I know that ballet isn't something you learn overnight. But realistically, as a 19 year old guy, what should be my goals? I have never studied dance before, but as mentioned before, I like to perfect things, and I work extremely hard to reach my goals. What would be a realistic time line for what I could accomplish in say 6 months? A year? Two years? I don't plan to make ballet my life's work, but I do enjoy performing, so could performing with a ballet company, such as the Houston Ballet, ever be in my future?

Edited by trmptr1409
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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, trmptr1409. Looks like we have a certain point of common interest. I'm a brass man myself.


As with instrumental music, vour present goals have to be learning the basic skills - like whole notes and half notes first, and building a proper embouchure. A year is a good time to budget before you take stock of where you are, and then plan from there. You're still fortunate in being male, as men's bodies can still develop technically more easily at 19 than women's bodies at the same age. Further, there's still a shortage of male dancers, which may work to your advantage. With a good body, intellectual aptitude for the way ballet works, and excellent training, you can accomplish a lot. Houston Ballet might not be out of the question.

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Thank you for the quick response! I'm glad that we have something more in common that we both can relate to! I am attempting to find a decent studio to study at, but the area that I live in doesn't really have many places. I have contacted a few places and am awaiting responses. Would taking private lessons be better for me, or would a basic adult class be better? How do I evaluate the level of school and what is worth the money? Would taking two one hour private lessons a week be a reasonable place to start? Sorry for all of the questions, I just want to know as much as possible so that I don't waste money at a school that won't teach me anything.

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I'd say go with a group class; ballet is one of those skills that it's best to learn in conjunction with others. Private classes work best when you have a finite goal in mind, like a role to prepare, or an exam to pass. As you are a complete beginner, practically all the corrections given to ANYBODY in the class will apply to you. As to quality control, here's a simple one, given all the access to video that we get from YouTube. Look at clips of well-known ballet dancers. Does the advanced class of a school look at all like them, and if so, how much? Start by taking two classes a week, then listen to your teacher for advice on how to proceed when you begin to catch on to the rudiments.

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Excellent! I have spoken to the director of Houston International Ballet Academy, a newer ballet academy close enough to my home. I've done a little research on the teacher who does the adult classes, Mr. John Ruth, and it seems he has been very active, so I am confident that he will be able to get me started. My first class should be January 11th. I plan to go buy my dance apparel tomorrow as soon as my paycheck is in the bank! I've read through a lot of the discussions on this board, and I am very excited to begin this new adventure(although I am sure I will have a 'fun' time picking out clothing that will fit and be comfortable)! I would like to go to the Houston Ballets open adult beginner class, but it says on their website that the beginner class if for students who already know some about ballet. So I figured my best plan would be to start at the local academy and learn the basics for a few months(2-3?) and then start making the trip to Houston Ballet(about a 45 minute drive from my house). Does this seem like a good plan? I don't want to waste any time learning unnecessary things, especially if this turns out to be a "Dolly Dinkle" school, since I'm getting a bit of a late start, but I also don't want to be submerged into a class that is too advanced for me and cause me to lose motivation. At the local studio, only one class if offered for adults per week. An hour per week doesn't seem like it will be nearly enough for me to actually learn.

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One last question, for a few days at least :), Is the one hour class enough? I feel that I should be taking quite a bit more than that to actually make some progress. Would it be better for me to find another studio that offers more classes per week, or go to multiple studios adult classes? I would think that attending multiple schools would be a very bad thing, but if only one class is offered per week, what are my options? Okay, so I guess that was more than one question. Thank you for all the help you've given so far! I am so glad that I found this board. I know it has already been a big help, and I'm sure as I grow and learn, it will help me even more!

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My experience, for what it's worth - I'm a much later starter than you, but I've been doing this for a bit over seven years now. (Trust me on this - if you have the spark, you will NOT get tired of it!)


At the beginning, it is kind of overwhelming, and it may not be productive to take more than one or two classes a week. You have so much to integrate into the subconscious and the muscle memory in between, and conscious intention is not a good tool for that. Try one more class than you think you can handle; be realistic and your body and mind will tell you if you've over-reached. I would guess one to five years to get to daily classes - it took me four or five, but I'm old and not especially talented.


As soon as you can take more than one class effectively, try to get one class you can't do and another you can. It's valuable to know where you are going before you get there, but you also have to get the basics down clearly. Getting the basics means enough repetitions to make it unconscious - this is hard to get outside of a residential school, so watch out for the temptation to cut it short!


It will take something like ten years to get as good as you can be. If you are talented and work hard, you will be better in ten years than if you are not, but it still will take ten years. Some people say 10,000 hours instead, and people vary - but that's the reality (as I understand it) for motor skills at the highest level.


Best wishes!

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But this above all: THE most important step to take is actually to start! After you start, you can adjust your training schedule, but you must get started. By starting, you not only begin training your body and mind to "work like ballet", but it puts you with teachers, who can see you, and help you to advance in the most knowledgeable way.

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Thanks guys. I bought my dancewear today. I'm getting excited more and more everyday. I've found another studio in my area that offers adult basic ballet classes. Is taking classes at two studios a big no-no? I know when I was taking voice lessons, I wasn't allowed to go to multiple places, because I could get conflicting instruction from different instructors. Is that an issue with dance?

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I've taken classes at many studios, and I doubt it matters. Sure there are different forms of ballet instruction (Russian Classical, Ceccheti (sp?), Vaganova etc.) which have different usage of arms and stylistic presentations but ballet training is more or less the same and eventually you will figure out what style a teacher is teaching by (you could ask the teacher what form of ballet they teach too haha...actually always ask questions! best way to learn!). I started ballet at 19 (close to 20) too! and its been a year and a few months since i started (just turned 21), and I never regret it no matter how frustrating it can get being a late starter and a male. I know how hard it is to find good training once you're past the age of 18 (Many programs won't take 18+ and I have tried a few places...and I am still taking non-syllabus ("open") adult classes), but if you have the drive for it you will find teachers who are just as passionate to help you as you are to learn. Good luck!

Edited by Hans
Edited by Moderator to remove quote of entire preceding post. Please use the "Add Reply" button when responding. :)
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A recap of how I feel about my first class that I just got home from. I was extremely nervous when I got to the school. I walked in and I wasn't sure where I was supposed to go, so I just waited around the front entrance for 5 minutes(I was 20 minutes early). An older lady came in and I asked her if she was there for the adult class, and she was so we started talking with the teacher who was around the corner from where I was originally. The class started and I felt extremely awkward in tights and whatnot, but I quickly got over that fear, and began to get nervous about all of the empty space in the studio. There were only three students, myself included. One, the older lady I first met, is a very experienced dancer and was a soloist in a company when she was younger. The other, a woman close to my age, had danced ballet when she was younger. The first few steps were very intimidating, but after watching closely, I caught on the basics of the basics. Still much more detail to be learned, of course. The class went well, and has me excited for next week, and perhaps a drop in to another studio to see how their class is. I got a few compliments as well, from both the teacher and the older woman. According to them, I have very nice legs and feet. Very good to hear, since I was scared to even walk out of the dressing room in those tights!


And now, for the point of the post, on both of my big toes, on the inside(the part where no other toe touches, unsure if inside/outside) is very sore. I was almost in tears before I took off my ballet shoes. Is this perhaps because the shoes may be too tight? Or more likely just because my feet aren't used to those types of pressures yet?

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Your toes should not be sore (especially not THAT sore) after class. I recommend asking one of your teachers to check out how you stand and what you're doing with your feet and toes during tendus, relevés, jumps, etc., to make sure you are working correctly.

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  • 1 month later...

Update! So I missed a few weeks of class because I lost a close relative, and it put me a bit behind financially, but now that I'm back up, I started back today. 2 classes today and one Saturday. One is the original class I mentioned, and the new one is a mens class. I have also been given the role of Sancho Panza in the new studios production of Don Quixote in May. So my new schedule will be an hour of mens class on Tuesday, followed by an hour of an adult class. Wednesday- an hour of rehearsal with the intermediate girls in Don Quixote, because we have a scene together, and then 1.75 hours of show rehearsal at night. And then an hour of mens class on Saturdays. I'm hoping that it is enough to throw me into it to make me learn, sink or swim situation, but not too much that I'll burn out or feel like its too much. I'm excited!

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So I was looking at colleges around my area so I could get back into school, and I realized one of the CC near me offers a AA in Dance. I'm considering going for it. It would allow me to be in school, study what I am already studying, and allow me to grow... I'm thinking its a good idea.

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