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questions concerning ballet waltz and arm positions


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I am 26 and started ballet a month ago. In class we have this waltz step that goes front, side, back, front, side, back... And I am just struggling how to do this. It would help me if I could practice it at home but I can't find a good resource online. We already did this three times in class and I still can't do it. Does anybody know a web-site where it gives the name of the waltz and explains how to do it properly? I am also looking for resource on arm positions. My teacher told me to work on my arm position on first in particular. I'm motivated to learn how to dance especially because I'm a late-starter and appreciate the art form and it just breaks me to see how the dancers must feel onstage. I do know that I have to be realistic, yet I don't know what my potentials are and what opportunities are out there for me.




many thanks,


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Hi, Daedalus, and welcome to Ballet Talk fot Dancers. :)


There are many, many steps which fit into the waltz, many of which are based on the basic step the balancé, but what you're describing would seem to fit the pas de bourrée better, at least the way you've written it. The pas de valse (waltz step)is a turning step done with loose turnout which travels, rather than be described as "front, side, back". (That's one way of describing a pas de bourrée dessus) Ask your teacher for help and clarification of the step's name, execution, and function. That's what s/he's there for! As you go on, you'll find that there are many, many ways of describing almost any step, and how to ask the teacher for help in class. Keep it up! You're only just starting, and everything is liable to seem like a new world for quite a long time!

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Yes, I do remember she said pas de bourrée dessus. We do them slowly at first then we do them to faster music. And I just can't keep up. She set me aside once after class and showed it to me again and I still can't get it. It's easy to get frustrated but I feel rather proud of myself for trying at least. It all does seem like a new world! It took some time for me to feel comfortable walking into a ballet studio. I was lucky enough to enter into a studio that encouraged me to stay and take ballet. Thank you. I will go ask her for clarification

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For an online resource, try this: http://abt.org/education/dictionary/index.html


Scroll down within the list on the left to "Bras, positions des" and to "Pas de bourree". From the "Pas de bourree" link you can click "dessus" and that will show a demonstration of that particular way of doing it.


Books with photos/diagrams of arm positions include "Classical Ballet Technique" by Gretchen Ward Warren, "Technical Manual and Dictionary of Ballet" by Gail Grant, and "The Cecchetti Method of Classical Ballet" by Beaumont and Idzikowski (don't be put off by the weird photo on the cover).


By the way, many beginners have trouble with pas de bourree, so don't feel bad! You will get it eventually. :) A month is not a very long time in terms of ballet training.

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I bought Gail Grant's manual and dictionary which was also recommended by my teacher. The photo wasn't weird at all although a bit obscure. I appreciate your encouragement. Other than the classes I have really never danced in my life. I wish my classes can be a bit slower paced for me to get some of the very basics. My teacher tells me that men usually learn at a faster rate. There are times when I do impress myself. Most of the time I try not to feel nervous and I kind of just do it.

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"I wish my classes can be a bit slower paced for me to get some of the very basics."


From what I have seen most places see a guy and instantly put them in a class above their level, I know this happened to me when I first started ( not saying that it is happening to you). Like you said though, in the end you just have get over the nervous feelings and actually do it. Actually doing it in the end is what will makes you a better dancer. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Daedelus, PDB is a hard step to learn. You will pick it up in a few weeks. Don't give up!


Often (not always) men do the PDB different than women. Traditionally, women will bring their feet all they way up to the knee, a "picked up" PDB. Men typically do it much lower than women, just lifting your feet off the floor.


Enjoy and have fun!

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  • 9 months later...

It has been more than a year and I am still taking ballet lessons. The advice on this forum had helped to carry me through. I can do a pas de bourrée and a balancé. And I no longer have any issues with my dance attire. My shyness didn't resolve itself until after a few months. My teacher and fellow students encouraged me and motivated me to progress and so it was just a matter of time that I felt at peace with being a beginner and an adult male dancer. More than improving in the dance, the practice has improve other reaches of my life. Grateful that I have picked it up along the way and that I was smart enough to have done so.




many thanks,


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