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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Summer Successes and Setbacks

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Guest Pas de Quoi

Absolute beginner should be just that - working on the fundamentals that eventually build up to a pirouette or a frappé or whatever. It is hard to find a class that gives a good working blend of fundamentals and fun, dancing steps and simple choreography.


The problem with doing things one is really, really not prepared for is that unwanted muscle memory is developed, making doing the step correctly much harder than if the student learns the basics first (like mastering a retiré position at the barre, then mastering it in the center, then attempting the 1/4, 1/2, whole pirouette after that has been accomplished).


But .... dancing is supposed to be fun and challenging, allowing for personal artistry and creativity. A difficult task for any teacher ..... these are some of my most challenging classes to teach, requiring a lot of thinking and lesson plan preparation. The teacher of these classes needs to be very aware of all the little pieces that make up a certain step, and be able to communicate this information to the dancers.


That being said I LOVE working with dancers who dance "for love, not money". :flowers:

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I completely agree with you guys! I did feel like this Absolute Beginner class felt more advanced than I would expect (and was totally shocked when he said we were doing pirouettes from fifth) but it seems like the teacher that day was not as experienced. I didn't see his name anywhere else on the monthly schedule and one of the other girls said that he's one of the company dancers. After that first class, I was nervous about having to go to a regular beginner class last week, because the school was closed for memorial day weekend, so I told the teacher as much. Since it was a night class (and only one other girl showed) she offered to teach as an AB class instead. It was much closer to what I would expect.


We spent nearly all our time at the barre (she even spent some time showing us how to use the barre properly!) and explained much of the science of why things needed to be done a particular way. She also worked from the most basic elements of a move. I loved her class but, unfortunately she won't be teaching during the summer, because I would love to keep going to her. She did tell me that the only reason she teaches is because she has gone to workshops and open classes that don't take the time to teach the adult beginners how to do things properly and just expect you to figure it out.

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Guest Pas de Quoi

Sparrow that is just GREAT!! I am very happy you had the chance to have class with what sounds like a wonderful teacher! Adult beginners (and adult dancers in general) deserve to have a chance to learn and get better. NO IT IS NOT JUST EXERCISE - it's a beautiful art form that adults wish to be able to do correctly, and well.


Can you tell this is really, really important to me? I have had horrible classes and I have had great classes. Adults can learn. They can advance.


If you want some validation, check out the many good DVD's done by Finis Jhung. I was lucky to take one of his teacher training workshops and I loved what he had to offer.

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Thank you, Pas de Quoi! How much I´d love to take classes with you! I also read what you wrote in the teacher forum about your performance. I can´t post there, but I´m very sorry that there are so many people for whom action is more important than quality! Stick to your values!

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Sparrow, that second class sounds great! It's sad that she won't be teaching adult classes over the summer. I'd let the owners know how much you enjoyed her class. Have you asked if she is maybe teaching adult classes at a different place for the summer?


Also, I have found that teachers often want to help students get to a class that will work best for them. If I happen to be in a class that felt perfect I've asked the teacher if he or she would recommend other teachers who teach on other days so that I can try to replace one that isn't working well for me. This has also been helpful when a class feels a little too advanced: "Thanks so much for your class! I don't feel like I'm quite up to it yet and was wondering if you would mind suggesting a class or teacher that could help me advance to this level" or something along those lines. Since adults normally buy drop-in classes or class cards and not the same level of money that children's tuition brings in I think teachers feel more comfortable about recommending teachers at other places, too.


Sometimes classes also pick up their own character in a way that is not always reflected on the schedule, e.g., a long-running basic class with very regular students may have morphed into a beginner or beg/int class, and a new or sparsely/irregularly attended intermediate class may actually be (or could be easily changed if many of the other basic or beginner classes have informally raised their difficult level) taught at a lower level. The teachers often know what is going on in the other adult classes, so it can be worth it to ask.

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I'm looking forward to summer classes my studio is offering and keeping up my stamina with my second pregnancy so I can make the transition back after baby is born without as many setbacks.


My struggle this summer will be my balance! haha - my ever changing center of gravity.

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Sometimes classes also pick up their own character in a way that is not always reflected on the schedule, e.g., a long-running basic class with very regular students may have morphed into a beginner or beg/int class, and a new or sparsely/irregularly attended intermediate class may actually be (or could be easily changed if many of the other basic or beginner classes have informally raised their difficult level) taught at a lower level. The teachers often know what is going on in the other adult classes, so it can be worth it to ask.

I learned this the hard way today. I knew I couldn't go to the absolute beginner class this week, so I chose to go to a morning beginner class today instead of a beg/int class last night because I figured I could get more out of it. Turns out this teacher has this class three times a week and it seemed like it has very regular attendees. The class was insane and I couldn't keep up at all--we did like 5 variations on pirouettes and a bunch of other things that I've never even heard of! I didn't even get any corrections, just a metaphorical pat on the back to just try and I'd get *something* out of the class. The whole thing was very frustrating. The thing I hated about my college class was that the teacher never gave individual corrections so I never knew what I specifically needed to work on and I felt like I had no chance of progressing, even if it was just to feeling good about the choreography. The whole point of these summer classes for me is to get a better foundation before my fall class and today felt like the college class. Basically like I was fumbling along just trying to get through it rather than actually learning anything! At least with the first teacher when I was in over my head, I still felt good when I left because I knew what to work on. I know that I shouldn't let it get to me because I did the best I could, but it's very difficult to not feel bad.


What do you guys do when you've had a bad class and are feeling discouraged?

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Eat ice cream. Go to another class.


It's not uncommon for a teacher to hold back on giving any corrections to a new adult dancer in his/her class. It gives the dancer time to adjust to the style, tone, teaching methods, etc. without feeling overwhelmed or, worse, attacked.

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I've been out for months with sesamoiditis. I have special orthotics but it's just not healing... I can walk without pain but I can't go on demi pointe at all... :-(

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I agree with gav! Sometimes the first class with someone can feel strange. As much as the student is trying to figure out if they like the teacher's class and teaching style, the teacher might be trying to see whether or not you will keep coming/are the kind of adult student who wants corrections/what kind of corrections might be most beneficial for you to hear first. I'd try again, or try another class you are more comfortable in. It can take time to develop a relationship with a teacher and find your best class fit.

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In my summer: near the end of class several days ago I did something while attempting a correction on a saut de chat. At the height of my jump I felt something in my glute/maybe the top of my hamstring in my forward leg (the left, in this case). There was no apparent bruising or swelling, but I was on an icing regimen immediately for the next 36 hours or so and everything is feeling okay now, but a little weak. I'm going to condition and take it very easy during class tomorrow: no big leaps or leg throws, no high (for me) extensions, and generally just testing out my left leg. We'll see how it goes, but I'm not going to push anything.

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Boo to injuries, txstudent! Do take care of it; I hope you're back at full strenth soon!


As for me, I have a smallish update to my never-ending ankle drama (originally posted here):


Got an MRI last month that revealed the following problems: peroneal tendonosis and synovitis; retrocalcaneal bursitis; an effusion at my tibiotalar joint; and (most surprisingly) a small longitudinal tear in my achilles. :wallbash: Despite all that, the doctors and the dance PT think I'll eventually get better and be able to dance again (keyword: eventually).


Met with a surgeon to get another set of eyeballs on everything. He doesn't want to do surgery (yay), but instead he wants to try a new injection (PRP/platelet rich plasma) into my peroneals. Tried to do that last Friday, but they couldn't draw my blood because I am apparently superhuman (or I have tiny veins). Waiting to see when we'll try again. In the meantime, I haven't danced at all since the end of March (and not fully since last August), and am getting more and more depressed about it :( I've been able to teach (in a boot), but that's not quite the same.


On the plus side, our studio just moved into a space with NEW SPRUNG FLOORS, which my ankle will be happy about when I can dance again!

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I've been fighting with a weird/unkown injury in my ankle for the past few months, the only thing everyone agree on is do not stop moving (yes). i finally saw a dance pt she okay me to dance, just almost no jumping (really sad as big jumps are my favourite thing in class, last summer, the teachers I saw for my 2 one weeks intensive were like you're big allegro are more those of a boy than of a girl !). I've been okay to pointe return to a more normal pointe work to (still not jumping, building slowly first). Classes are ending next week and there's no class at all until mid september here (really depressing), no drop in class either I'm realy jealous of those of you who have access to a few classes during the summer. However before my adult intensive in a foreign country, I managed to have a few private to work on pointe work.

txstudent: injury sucks, I know that, crossing my finger it's going to be better soon !

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So sorry for everyone battling injuries.. Marjolein, I feel for you, you really cannot dance like that!

I hope you all heal soon!


I don't have any real plans for the summer, I just try to get as many classes as possible. I do have a few options for summer classes, but most aren't very close by (in my city I will have a class once a week, for other classes I have to travel about an hour each way). :) I'll be glad when September comes around! During the school year my classes are a 10 min bicycle ride from my home!

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Thanks, y'all! After extreme fatigue (a result of a lack of conditioning and a much lower volume and intensity of classes while traveling for the past twelve week) finally wore off it looks like all I've got is a mild semitendinosus strain. It revealed some overall weakness in my hip extensors. My hip extensors (hamstrings, gluteus maximus) are quite stiff despite having a better than average passive range of motion (leg can go well beyond 90, but never in a developpe devant), and my hamstrings often fire before my glutes which is a problem I've been working on. Poor posture in my temporary living situation while traveling also undid a good amount of work I had done to combat anterior pelvic tilt, which was also likely a problem in the injurious saut de chat since my femur likely started the jump a little forward and then popped into place once I fully engaged my core and pulled my hip and femur into proper alignment at the height of the jump. Ah, the joys of femoral anterior glide *sigh*


All of that to say that my current progress is looking quite good compared to what I expected when I couldn't separate the fatigue from the injury. Light stretching and careful conditioning feel much better now than they did 72 hours after injury. I also took a a ballet class (somewhat modified for my left leg) and it went much better than expected. Range of motion also looks pretty good, but I'm going to take care to not overdo it in the next couple of weeks.


Lidewij: I know the 1 hour travel each way to class life all too well. Hopefully you are able to do better than I did with it!

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