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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Over crowded classes


Sharon B

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Sadly the spirituality of the class I took last week wasn't there today. The New Year's resolution folks are back in full force. Class today was a zoo. Have you ever been in a class where there were too many people to move? Class today could have been a disaster, fortunately someone had the foresight to run second class run simultaneously ( one of the company dancers who often teaches ballet, taught the 2nd class). There were well over 40 people in studio designed to hold fewer ( I'd guess 30 comfortably). Initially there wasn't even enough barre space or barres. I get to class early enough to stretch, and take a usual space. I went expecting class with a specific teacher, Natalia, and would have been terribly disappointed had things not worked out. But seriously, when does it stop being about how much money you take in/people you cram in a studio, and more about learning?

 

Are classes capped where you take class, or are as many people as possible crammed into the studio? I don't see how one can learn, let alone move, when there isn't at least a little room to move.

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It's hard to say, because many cities with open classes can't anticipate how many will show up. Some cities are also very old, so the studio space is what it is (columns/pillars, etc.). Auditions can be overcrowded like this too... we just manage. Sometimes, you end up at the "butt end" of a portable barre, not on a side, but literally holding the corner joint. There's a lot of tilting the body en diagonale at the barre so that you don't kick your classmates in the face - but I find that mostly works if everyone else knows how to do that too. It's hard for me to go on diagonal in groups of open class people because we're all different levels, but normally the teacher assesses how advanced people are during barre, and the ones that are more experienced will be in the front of the group so that slow to learn people like me won't become an obstacle for them across the floor. I haven't been turned away from any class in any city (or country) yet though... crowded or not. :/

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I think you've put your finger on it, Sharon B -- New year's resolutions! The bigger picture is, isn't that wonderful, that more people are taking up ballet. But that doesn't help your current frustration.

 

A crowded class calls for a lot more concentration, particularly by more experienced dancers. I find I have to wrap myself in a cocoon of concentration, and become acutely aware of my personal kinesphere, that 2 metre diameter sphere around me.

 

Let's hope your teachers up their control of spacing in the class, and I hope it settles don for you soon.

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On the one hand it is great to see so many people in one class...I wish this would happen to one of the uncountable classes I take. Unfortunately we are usually in 3, often I was the only student...but this does not help you :-) This is very frustrating and even when dividing the class in groups it is frustrating because you have to wait your turn and you get cold in the meantime waiting. Oh well, with open classes it is always difficult to tell how many people come. Me personally as a teacher I experienced that one day you have a class full, the next day maybe two students show up.

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I remember once being in a large class that usually was held in a large room where the class had to move to an available smaller studio because the large one was being used for a month. I remember counting more than 40 people in that class that day. I had never seen more than about 15 people in the studio where we moved to. It was tight to say the least. I don't remember anyone having trouble at the barre. Even in the big room we would have people at the ends of the portable barres, so I don't think that was any problem. What I remember most was the center adagio. Usually the teacher of the class had adagios that moved around the space. But this time, I suspect created on the spot, he had an adagio where you literally kept to your little spot. I was quite impressed. I don't remember anyone getting bashed at any time.

 

The big studio was used for a month, so our class was confined to this smaller studio for the month. I do remember attendance dwindling over the month, but it remained a pretty full room.

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  • 2 weeks later...

All our classes are run on a 'drop in' basis, so numbers vary hugely. Last night the beginner class was really full, and we did struggle a bit for barre space (we generally do grande battement etc in two groups anyway to avoid accidents!) However, there are beginner or mixed ability classes five days a week, so what seems to happen, is that the numbers even out over time.

 

There have been a lot of newbies in the last couple of weeks, which has made the studio a bit crowded (and made me a little keener to go to the much less busy advanced class!) but its always good to have new blood, so to speak. It's especially good to have a few more men in the class - my friend is often the only one, which doesn't really bother him, but its nice to have a bit more of a mix, and means they can do the 'manly' versions of exercises (where there are differences) - as a group!

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Maybe now that I have an iPad mini, I'll get someone to take photos, well at least photos of my feet, and finally have a visual presence. I love that I am getting to take an extra class ( or two if I'm off from work) this term, not loving the fact that I'm only teaching 2 classes rather than 3 ( this is in addition to my fulltime job working in an academic library). The extra class has been awesome, I had forgotten how good a teacher this person was, even though her petite allegro and center is wickedly hard. Had a bit of a weird situation in the beginner class last night. Of course it continues to be crowded with the New Years resolution folks, , which is fine. However, I am not one to switch places back and forth with someone so they can follow me, particularly if I'm doing class/barre wearing my pointe shoes. I'm quite certain the person standing next to me at the barre expected me to switch places back and forth with her so she could watch, guess I'm selfish, I want/need to see what I'm doing ( and I deliberately pick a place to stand where I'm not in the road). Of course I should have prefaced that when the teacher asked if there were any folks new to ballet, both she and her friend said no. In fact the two of them told the person across from me that they had taken ballet. This makes me wonder if they were lying, or if they "took ballet" at a Dolly Dinkle school, and simply didn't know? Either way, I don't think I should have to switch back and forth so someone can follow me when I pay for a spot. There were tons of people she could follow both to the left and right, Oh well....these are my thoughts for this somewhat cold Friday morning....more later.

Edited by Clara 76
Edited to remove links*
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In my opinion, if you don't enter a class in the middle of the year and there is a set barre that was already introduced, you are in the wrong level if you have to copy (well, maybe the first two lessons). You should be able to follow the majority of the exercises without copying (especially at the barre) and if not, the class is too complexe for you and therefore you should move down.

 

In my adult beginner class, the very first lesson they are allowed to copy so I usually put newbies in between two people who have already been there. Then I start to move students around, so that everyone will stand once at the end of the barre (of course not during the lesson but from time to time I mix them differently). I have seen people having their own spot at the barre and when they had to move to another spot, they forget everything about technique and ballet.

As an exception, they might follow me but just me and no one else (I don't want them to copy bad habits from other students).

 

My teacher used to dance with us all the time. So I picked up the habit to copy. When I went to my first SI I realized that I had zero memory and I couldn't even remember the easiest exercises. Therefore I insist that my students use their own brain. Copying is also bad regarding the music because you will alway be late.

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