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Ballet Talk for Dancers

When is it time to level up?


hlambers

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How do you know when it's time to move up a class? At what point does a class become to easy? Or, on the flip side, how do you know a class is too difficult?

 

I think it may be time for me to transition from "advanced beginner" to "intermediate." I was only in my advanced beginner class for about 6 months, but it's quickly becoming too easy for me. It wasn't the challenge it was when I first started. Do you all have advice on when you know it's time for a new challenge? (And yes, I asked my teachers. Both just said they won't discourage me from taking more...I guess that's a go-ahead?)

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Depending on how your school is structured, it may be possible to ease up slowly. For example, if you're taking 3 classes per week, you could keep 2 advanced beginner and replace the third with 1 intermediate. I think it's really useful to have something that's "too easy" alongside something that's more of a challenge.

 

(And remember that "too easy" isn't really a thing! I've taken beginner classes with working professionals, and they're usually sweating more and earlier in class than anyone else. There's always something to improve. Always!)

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When I was developing, I moved up in level as fast as I could. I'm sure I thought I was a better dancer than I really was. But I don't think that was bad. Yes, when I moved up, I wasn't good with respect to the others in class, but having better students in class just motivated me more. I would copy things they did that I thought were good. I would go home and work on things where I had difficulty. I learned a lot from better students.

 

Over time, I learned that level wasn't important to me. I could go back to a beginner class and learn something. I could take the highest level of class with professionals and use them as models.

 

I think you get from class what you yourself put into it. Levels are just general guidelines.

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For me personally, I had to "know when to say when", and promote myself up to the intermediate class. No one was going to promote me, and as w/ Hlambers, that little voice inside told me, after almost 3 solid years of beginning adult ballet that I had to push myself on, or I'd never get to actually dance. I would never get enough practice if I stayed with only the beginning class.

 

I completely agree w/ gav that working on basics always is useful. But for myself, to ease the transition, I took the beginner class at the studio I changed to for the intermediate adult class, for a solid two months, taking one intermediate class per week. Then I phased out the beginner class and transitioned to intermediate only classes, over a period of several months. There is more than ample time and opportunity to practice basic things at barre in the intermediate class.

 

It was a matter of being up for the challenge, and having the confidence. It was the best thing I ever did to go ahead and take that step.

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A few weeks ago I ran into a quote from the poet Sylvia Plath, something like the greatest enemy to creativity is self-doubt. I really believe that and believe it applies to dance as well.

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If you are careful, it could be good to add in a more advanced class. You'll learn more steps and longer combinations. But I think you need to be very careful not to allow the faster pace of an intermediate class let you get into bad technical habits. That's what I find happens to me, although I really enjoy the opportunity to dance out in the centre far more, in longer combinations, than in a beginners' class.

 

So personally, I'd keep going to the beginner classes. These are excellent for keeping the basics in sight and in your body. Even though I'm fairly advanced in terms of having a good grasp of most of the ballet repertoire of steps and combinations, and can execute most stuff (although at varying levels of good technical control! :blush: ) I actually find beginners' classes harder than more advanced ones, as they expose my weaknesses. So I'd never say a beginners' class is "easy." I use them to work very hard on the basics.

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Thanks everyone for the replies.

 

Maybe my question was unclear. Yes, there are things to be learned in more beginner classes, I'm aware. But when do you know it's time to take on a new challenge? Surely no serious adult dancer stays in the beginner class for his or her entire life. What, for you, was the moment that said, let's move on to something new?

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My suggestion stands. If you want to try something new, add 1 intermediate class/week into your current mix and keep the rest the same. That allows you to see some more complex vocabulary and choreography while also continuing to build the foundation. And then if the intermediate class turns out to be over your head (for now), you can always step back. Again, it depends on how your school and your personal schedule are structured.

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I'd echo Gav.

 

Yes, you'll greater range of steps and combinations in the next level, but if you've only been in the beginners' class for 6 months (does that mean you've only been learning ballet for 6 months?), there will be a lot still to work on in the beginners' class. So I'd be trying to fit both levels into my schedule. It is a big step to move up from a beginners' class -- possibly just as big a step as starting ballet -- so keep a class where you feel very comfortable. And then enjoy the mental and physical challenge of the step up!

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I certainly agree w/ comments above! Here is another thought.... There can be a spectrum among beginner classes. You might want to check out some other beginning classes in your town or city. Some beginner classes are true (though perhaps not "absolute beginner") to that moniker but are taught at a pace still quite engaging that while dealing in basics moves along and covers a lot. You may want to check out other beginning level classes at other studios in your area to find the just right, "Goldilocks" class -- just the right level of challenge, while building on the basics so you get a lot of practice.

 

This may have been said before, but sometimes the class is effective based more on the particular teacher, than about the "level" per se (which as Garyecht says, is to some extent simply a label).

 

If you were to check out other studios, other classes to find one at the right level for you at this time….especially if your comments originate from a sense that your present class is not quite "hitting the spot" or satisfying you and it might be out of wanting a more challenging atmosphere, perhaps at a different studio, or in a different class.

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Yes, to so much of what has been said above. "Easy", beginner classes are rarely really too easy to benefit you unless they're actually taught poorly. And yes, do try other beginner classes and/or the next level up!

 

To give a metric for you to judge by, I think when you've finished a class, working full-out, done a good job, and you feel as though you've got plenty of stamina or endurance left for you to keep going, it's time to try a more challenging class. A lot of beginner classes don't really challenge your body's stamina: They include really basic jumping combinations but nothing more. If, after a full class including grand allegro, you feel strong and like you want to keep jumping, or like you want to move faster, it's time to try another class, maybe at the next level.

 

Similarly, if your class includes only basic port de bras, or basic directional patterns, and you feel like your head is ready for more, that's another way to know it's time to try.

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insidesoloist -- great comments to gauge when you/your body (and your mind) are not being challenged enough. Very much along the lines of your comments, when I think back to one or a few of the beginner classes i knew it was time for me to move on from, it is just as you say…

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I like to take a mix of classes....beg, adv beg, and intermediate. I think in the slower paced classes I can perfect the basics and in the higher level classes I can work on more challenging combos and turns. I tend to be in the bottom third in the intermediate classes and in the top in the lower level classes. It feels good to be able to do things "well" during the lower level classes since the intermediate is challenging for me. I've been consistent in taking the intermediate class and have noticed that I am much better at keeping up with the more advanced students.

 

I think it is fine to try a more advanced level class as long as you aren't slowing down everyone else. I agree that there is a point where you just need to go for it and try...

 

I've also found that advanced beginner or intermediate can be quite different depending on the teacher or studio...

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