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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pull up! Turn out! Straighten your leg!


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... Those are corrections I repeatedly received from my teacher since I restarted agan in March. I know I did have some progress (especially on pull up part due to stronger core). On turn out, I can now engage my inner thight for a more turned out position but ONLY if I am in static position. But it's soooo difficult to ace them all the time.


Seeing that they are quite basic corrections, do you think my teacher will think I am not trying enough if I still cannot do them all the time? I feel so stupid sometimes, in that I intellectually understand what to do but the understanding is just not reflected in my dancing....

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  • silkmaiden


  • Ludmilla


  • Scuballerina


  • morninglorie


Of course your teacher won't think you're not trying! Ballet is all about that impossible search for perfection. No one aces everything about ballet every time. Not even the pros.


I've been studying ballet for all of my childhood years, and have returned to it this year after some time off. It is the same now as it was when I was a serious prepro student, I still have to constantly work on my turnout, alignment, balance with EVERY single exercise. And so does everyone else, I promise. You know you're doing it 'right' when you're sweating by the end of plies, and yet the teacher is still correcting you. There is always, ALWAYS something else to refine and improve on. Let's say your turnout is great one class - well, then your arms aren't. Or your placement is off. Or you're not on top of your hips. Etc.


There's absolutely nothing 'basic' about turnout, or any of the other corrections you mention. ALL of us, including pros, spend everyday trying to achieve these basics. And, there's always room for improvement. So, enjoy the journey, and trust that if your teacher is correcting you, it's definitely not because he/she is thinking poorly of you, at all! Corrections are gems in the ballet world. :) You'll never ever get all of it right all of the time, but that doesn't matter....what matters is the effort.

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Don't know if this will help, but I say it in case it does..... Once you hear your teacher's voice in your head and it speaks ---- even before your teacher does --- pulling up, turning out and straightening legs will become automatic. It can become a reflex where your muscles 'hop to it' before the words are out of your teacher's mouth......She will be surprised!


Looking on the bright side, it's nice your teacher is so concerned about you and sees promise in you to want to get you on the right track.


Is she saying this only to you? Perhaps she is saying that to everyone and says it all the time whether it's needed or not -- it is her way of reminding everyone and it is automatic for her at the start of class. Perhaps don't take it personally and in time I think these three reminders will become automatic and "kick in" for you at the start of every class............. as silkmaiden says, "Corrections are gems in the ballet world." -- Very true -- Hang in there --


I still hear teacher's voices commanding me that I have not taken class with for years -- looking back I am glad their words have become like "mantras" to guide me in ballet class, even if that particular teacher is no longer there........ Strange....

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About to start retaking classes myself for the first time in a few years and I know I might struggle at first but hope the teacher gives me corrections. If I get the chance to speak to her, I'll tell her that I'm keen to improve and make up for lost time, so the more corrections she gives me the better. I've got a broad back in that respect and I'll know it's constructive criticism. I suppose it's when you're doing things wrong and you don't get corrected that is the time to worry.

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Another thing I've noticed while reading the adult ballet forums is, how often new adult ballet students can take corrections in a way they weren't intended. There are many posts I've read where the student sounds pretty hurt or upset, because they're not used to the way the ballet classroom works.


As an adult returning ballet student, the biggest thing I've worked for is to be treated the same as the teens - which is to say that I *want* those corrections! In my early classes, I made sure to thank the teacher every time for correcting me; I wanted to show that I wasn't there just for fun, that I wanted to improve my technique and get better at the art. There are lots of adults who find they don't get enough corrections, perhaps because the teacher doesn't know how to handle adults, or because they figure what's the point when the adult is too old to make a career out of it anyways. So it's a very good thing that you're getting corrections - if the teacher really didn't like you or didn't want to make you better, they wouldn't bother!


Also, the better you get? The MORE corrections you'll get too, LOL. Once you correct some things, there are always, always more. In my mixed open classes, for example, we have some very new beginners, and some with more experience like me. I have noticed sometimes that after a barre exercise, I'll get a very detailed picky correction, and the new beginners won't get any. It's not because I was worse - it's because I'm at a point where I can work on the details, but with the student who's just starting out it would be overwhelming and too much.


Finally, use the mirror! If you get in the habit of checking things you need to work on, then you can show that you're remembering your corrections and working on them.


Trust me, what you don't want is to go to class and be ignored by the teacher, THEN it's time to worry!

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I don't think you should worry at all, Scuballerina! I know they seem "basic" and you feel silly for having to hear them, but they're also some of the key things we always have to remember when dancing. I think its just a reminder sort of thing--the more she reminds you, the more you'll think about it, and like Ludmilla said, eventually it will become a habit. I have a teacher that comes by and presses my barre-holding hand because I have a tendency to grip it too hard...talk about feeling silly!


I remember as a teen dancer (back in the day), there was a teacher that I felt was picking on me, because every class I'd get tons of corrections while the other students would only get a few. I got so frustrated, I stopped taking her class and took a different one instead. Now as a much wiser adult, I realize that she was likely giving me so many corrections because she knew I'd take them and become a better dancer. Makes me regret leaving the class! Silly teenage brain. Now I crave corrections because I know they're helping me. I was taking a more beginning class last month (since I had just returned to ballet), and the teacher corrected me often, and I loved it. I knew that she was helping me refine my technique since I'd been out of dance for so long. Plus, I felt less out of place being a more "advanced" dancer in a beginning class because it showed I wasn't all fancy and perfect. I'd like to add that class back in at some point, because I know it will help keep my technique clean(er).

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I still hear teacher's voices commanding me that I have not taken class with for years -- looking back I am glad their words have become like "mantras" to guide me in ballet class, even if that particular teacher is no longer there........ Strange....

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Good to know I'm not the only one that hears voices in my head of instructors giving corrections. :)

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Whoa whoa whoa....


First of all, thank you for all of your comments. I do consider that my teacher's corrections are very valuable, and indeed I am quite frustrated if he doesn't correct me enough. So sorry if I give impression that I dislike being corrected, as it is not at all the case, heh heh...


My worries are actually if he feels I am not taking his correction as my progress on those corrected items are quite slow, and then *nightmare!!!* he will stop correcting me!!!


Ludmilla, I am lucky in the sense that usually a huge portion of corrections given are geared specifically for me as he is also physically correcting me or call out my name, (in addition to his general corrections that I internalize as well). It makes me feel that he doesn't think I am a hopeless cause after stopping for 9 years.


Thank you all for pointing out that being corrected means he believes I can refine my technique. That means a lot, heh heh and hopefully he will still think that way, albeit my s l o o o w progress. And yes, I also experience the 'residual voices'! Am taking classes with 2 teachers, and I always also hear his voice when I am in the other teacher's class, and vice versa. Funnily, their corrections are in alignment, so it's like hearing same thing in different words, which is heavily helpful!!!!

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Scuballerina, I think we all understand your feelings. I know I want to please my teachers and crave approval! It's human nature.


If you're worried your teacher will think you're forgetting the corrections or not caring to try, maybe you can chat with your teacher after class once in awhile to touch base? I know it makes me feel better to have the reassurance once in awhile. Of course not every class, but maybe once in awhile you can check in and let the teacher know that you are trying, and that you appreciate the corrections. At least then you can be sure the teacher knows you aren't blowing off his corrections, and maybe he can do some hands-on corrections too? Often with things like turnout we can be trying our best but we're not quite executing it right, and it can make a big difference to have the teacher place our foot/leg/etc into the right place.

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Ha, apparently my reading comprehension goes kaput during the weekends! :whistling:


I think ballet teachers are probably used to gradual progress, not overnight changes, so maybe he has noticed your progress and that's why he's continuing to push/remind you. Would you feel comfortable talking to him and asking him about it? You could always just describe your situation (i.e. you feel you've made some progress but are still struggling with certain aspects, does he have any additional recommendations?) In my experience, teachers like to teach and appreciate being asked questions. Sometimes in class there isn't enough time to really get into the meat of a correction, so if you can ask about it later when there's more time you might get some more detail.


ETA: hahaha Silkmaiden and I have the same brain ;)

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Scuballerina -- in a nutshell, just want to say also: "Welcome to the club......"


Also, when I am waiting to go into class and catch glimpses of the advanced class before ours at the studio, I see (and hear) the instructor calling out, "Straight legs!" to very advanced and lovely, teen students! These students are on pointe, perform, and I consider quite accomplished students.... striving for straight legs -- even among quite advanced students -- does not cease.... :nopity::D

.....really good advice above, too -- asking follow-up questions of your teacher is a good suggestion, if something comes to mind that might ask him to help clarify how to achieve the straight legs, etc. (I just use that as an example but same for anything else, turnout, etc....) This type of communication w/ a teacher when possible, is invaluable, I've found.....

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LOL I had to revisit this post after my last class. Just last night I was admonished to 'straighten your leg!!' in my pose turns (pique turns in some syllabi?)


Anyways, I tried, but it wasn't until I was messing around with it later at home that I think I figured out the problem. It isn't because I wasn't straightening my leg consciously, but that I wasn't lifting out of my hip at the top of the turn, and when I sit in my hip my knee buckles a bit. So I actually had to think of my hip, NOT my knee! So sometimes it takes a bit of analysis to figure out how to apply the correction, 'try harder' doesn't always work. I will check with my teacher next time but I'm pretty sure I'm right.


And yes, the more advanced you get, the even harder it is to maintain the basics! As the repertoire gets more complex and difficult, it's even that much easier to cheat the basic techniques. There's a reason that pros take class everyday, and even very advanced students will find benefits to going back to a basic class to refine their base technique. So, in a nutshell, we're all in the same boat. :)

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So... I only do barre part tonight (due to other obligation), but managed to ask "how can I sustain that?" when my teacher was physically correcting my turn out. Didn't get the chance to chat more, but will follow it up in my next class.


He did explain a lot about correlation between pointing the feet and straighten the knee, by saying that a lot of people focus on curling their toes in attempt to point the feet and leave the knee, well, not fully straighten. However, if the focus is in straightening the knee, in effect. the toes will be nicely pointed and not curled. We also feel his legs when he focused on the toe pointing/curling and the knee straightening. It's interesting to see the mechanics, and hopefully I can remember to focus on my knee from now on!


Oh, he also commented that my arabesque are "very good" which I assume means that he see I made effort to improve, heh heh...


Can't wait to apply today's correction to tomorrow's class (this one is RAD).

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