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Exercises for New Dancers


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Hello! I'm new to this forum, so I'm hoping I'm not double posting this topic.


I'm 21 years old and a full time college student. This year to take a break from my courses, I am taking a Beginner's Ballet course and am a little nervous. I used to be a gymnast and a pole vaulter, but coming to college I stopped working out so all that muscle is gone. This left me with really big thighs and arms.


I'm looking for some exercises and workouts to help get in shape, but not build big muscles. I'm used to weight lifting and things like that, but I really want to trim and tone. Any suggestions would be great!


Also, if there are anythings that a first time ballet student should know, I would love some help!

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Cassielou, and to the Adult Ballet Students forum. Pour a cup of coffee and have a wander through this forum -- you'll find you are not alone!


As for exercises: if you're a beginner Ballet student, it's best to do ballet stuff only in class. There you'll have a teacher's expertise to ensure that you develop the best possible alignment to get the ballet line, grace, and flexibility. But you might find that the NYCB Workout DVDs or videos are useful as preparation.


Here are a couple of recent threads from other new comers to ballet:


24 year old beginner


My take on my first 6 months

Have a great time!

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As a teacher of beginning adult ballet in university, I applaud your choice to take a ballet class--you will probably love it, if you have a good teacher! As for getting in shape beforehand, here's some thoughts: 1. A good teacher will not expect a beginner adult class to be in perfect shape entering the class, and will provide exercises and tips to help you get there. 2. I agree with the previous poster who said that you should not attempt specifically ballet exercises until you've been instructed in their proper performance by someone who can watch you doing them. 3. That said, Pilates (taught by a good instructor) can be helpful in gaining core strength and using the body in a way that is harmonious with ballet. Many dancers (both beginning and advanced) have benefitted from supplemental Pilates training. But again, the value, or not, of all these things lies in the quality of the instruction. Good luck, and enjoy your dance class!

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I’ve often said that were I to begin my dance life anew knowing what I know now I’d take two beginning ballet classes a week, a Pilates mat class, stretch for 15 minutes each day, and lose a pound or two. I would do that for any dance form I wanted to do. Of course, not everyone has the access to that many beginning classes or Pilates, though I think these provide a good basic beginning to any kind of dance you might pursue down the road.


Ballet class will give you a good dance vocabulary, a musical challenge, and the beginning of an enhanced kinetic intelligence. Pilates is useful more because of the principles you learn when doing the exercises than because of strength you will gain. Stretching improves your joint mobility. Dropping a pound or two, I believe will help with flexibility and just make you feel lighter.


I tend to believe in practicing outside of class. As a beginner, your practices will be very short, perhaps only 10 minutes long at first. All these practices should involve simply practicing what your teacher has emphasized in class and going through some of your class movements while thinking about what you learned. Practicing like this will help you listen better in class and raise questions you can ask your teacher. I wouldn’t worry about doing anything wrong or imperfect. As a beginner most of what you do, whether in class or outside of class, will be less than really good. Your first task is to get the basic gist of both the exercises you do in class and the technical points your teacher makes while in class.


With regard to other exercise you might do, as a former gymnast and pole vaulter you have a huge advantage over others who want to do fitness exercises. The exercises you do in those sports are all excellent for fitness. Just pick those you enjoyed doing and do them more for fitness rather than as sports training.

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