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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adult Classes and Recitals


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Hello Everyone,


I was curious if the two dance schools in my town are typical in that the adult ballet class does not perform in the end of year recital? The only opportunity for adults to perform is if they are enrolled in the teen classes. I was told that the adults tended to be parents of the students and that they weren't interested in performing themselves. They preferred to watch their children. I can understand their feelings, but it seems a shame that adults who would like to perform can't, especially when the teen classes are closed to them due to high enrollment. Is this the way many schools operate and just a sad fact of life, or are other schools different?

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Well in my last school I participated because I was interested and let the teacher know; and it looks like in my current school, which does the Nutcracker, also lets adults participate if they want. I would assume, though, that it is probably "the norm" for adults not to perform.

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All of my schools have had adults perform, if they want to. In most cases they DO NOT want to.


I like doing performances, but I prefer to dance with the kids, rather than in the "adult" number, which is often more novelty than any dancing.


(Two of the schools recital practice is completely outside of class, so you can choose between dance with kids or dance with adults, regardless of who you take class with, the other recital practice is part of the class, so if you are in an adult class, you do the adult number, kid class- kid number.)


Funny story- when I was in the corps for one of the fairies in Cinderella with my class (mostly 6th graders) I ended up in the front of most columns because I was the second shortest of the group. I told the director to put me in the back (because these kids had parents and grandparents wanting to watch them!) but she said formations are by height, age isn't a factor. Thankfully we only had a few columns, and most things were lines or horseshoes, because I felt so bad standing in front of children...

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I'm at a pre-pro school and none of the adult ballet, tap, jazz, or modern classes perform. I don't know about ballroom or flamenco. Even as an adult taking a kids' class I won't be able to be in our spring performance. I would love to have a chance to perform!

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Our school is going to be doing a little performance at the end of the year! I am so excited! We may be doing part of the mazurka from Coppelia and some other small pieces!!! I think it's nice for adults to have something to work towards too with pretty costumes, etc..

I am SO into the idea! :)

Why not suggest it to your teacher? We discussed the idea with ours and he is really into it!

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My school used to have an adult performance each year. There was always a full program and I was quite frankly shocked by how many people came. Held in a big studio, the audience was literally stuffed into the available space. Audience was primarily relatives and friends of the cast. I’m guessing at between 150-200 people showing up. At $10 a pop to get in that translates to $1,500-$2,000 in revenue for the school. Not bad.


Unfortunately that performance has morphed over the years to an event where staff members present work they have done (or want to do). Sometimes that work involves adult students and other times it is just staff members performing. Yes, the quality of the show as a whole is better now than it was then, but the spirit of the show isn’t. I loved watching adults nervously preparing to perform, often times for the first times in their lives. I loved watching them release their anxiety with bursts of chatter after they left the stage. My sense was that they grew a lot and that despite the extra time needed for rehearsals they thought well of what they did.


There were some distinguishing characteristics of the old adult performances. Whether or not a class performed was highly dependent on the teacher. Most students wanted to perform, but if a performance occurred, it meant the teacher would have to choreograph a piece and get the students to attend rehearsals, something that is often difficult for adults because of family and work commitments. Most rehearsals were held after class. One teacher was the organizer of the whole program and did a terrific job at both choreographing several pieces and the gala finish as well as organizing the event.


The second characteristic was that there were few ballet performances. Out of 12-15 performances, perhaps only 2-3 were ballet and the school is primarily a ballet school. Most performances were modern, jazz, and Spanish.


I’ve done ballet, modern, jazz, and Spanish performances for that show. One of the most interesting was a jazz piece. The cast was made up of adults from two different classed. Rehearsals were held after each class. The teacher, who absolutely loved this show, choreographed the piece so that not everyone needed to be at a rehearsal at the same time. In fact, typically the only time other than the show the cast performed together was during the dress rehearsal. The teacher, who was a member of the ballet company at the time, played a minor role in the piece and danced with all the adults in the show in the big gala ending. He was just another guy. No star (which he really was and is now).


In another jazz piece, I was the only guy. The piece needed guys, so the same teacher recruited guys from the ballet company. Only one other guy wound up being in the piece. Part of it involved a trio of guys. That wound up being the teacher, guy from the ballet company and . . . . me. It was a total thrill.

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Thank you, everyone, for your comments and stories. I think talking to the instructor about performing in the recital is definitely worth a try. Some of the adults I talk to would be excited to be in the show, while others have no interest at all, mainly, it seems, because of stage fright. But there's nothing quite like the exhilaration you get from audience applause while you are performing on stage, whether you are doing a solo or part of a group. It's a rush, and some of us would love to experience it again.

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At my (small) school, there are 3 or 4 performances on the show weekend - two matinees and one or two evening shows. The kids are in the matinees, the evening includes dance companies run by the teachers (there are several), and adult students perform in both shows. Families fill the theater at the matinees, and there are actually unrelated dance fans in the evening(!)


Performance is by volunteering, with a minimum number required, and rehearsals are separate from classes. I have to miss it this year, but have done the last two years and I think Garyecht captured the experience wonderfully.

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A former student at our school formed an adult flamenco class and managed to persuade the women to perform in the recital. There were parents of students, interested ladies looking for something a bit more artistic than keep fit classes and a couple of our teachers also joined in. I have to say they were wonderful and got a rapturous applause. I think if the performance is appropriate for adult dancers, why not. It's wonderful to perform!

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