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Ballet Talk for Dancers

30-year old beginner!

Guest Anders

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Hello all!


I'm a 30 year old lawyer who spent the last one and a half years in St. Petersburg, Russia. Although far from a ballet buff when I first arrived (and, honestly, still not very knowledgable), the city will simply not allow you to miss seeing a number of Swan Lakes, Nutcrackers, etc. at one or more of its numerous classical venues. I was charmed. When I returned to my native Stockholm a week ago, I immediately signed up for an extra curricular beginners course in ballet at the Stockholm ballet academy. I realize that for ballet purposes I'm way over the hill, but I'm doing it to hopefully be able to put my body at the service of beauty (not just beer).


Anyway, my first class is next Thursday, and I'd like to know a few things before I go. I asked the instructor what I should wear and she said tights. I know nothing about tights. As to shoes, she said that just socks would do for the first lesson. Would anyone like to give me the low-down on ballet apparel? What are tights, what do I wear on top (t-shirt?), and all the more mind boggling, what do I wear UNDER them? I'm grateful for all the pointers I can get...


Also, I'd like to hear your views on the age issue and any other experiences you might wish to share.


Thanks for your attention.




(I also posted this message on the adult students page)

:confused: :confused: :confused:


[ 09-04-2001: Message edited by: Anders ]



[ 09-04-2001: Message edited by: Anders ]

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Welcome to ballet! I hope you will enjoy yourself.


What you will need is a dancebelt (this answers the underneath question). A dance store will know what you mean. T-shirt is fine and you tuck it inside the dance belt. The tights can be held by a belt at the waist. You roll the tights over the belt and a webbed, military belt works well. Or you may use suspenders. I am sure the school has a document that advises you what to wear and where to purchase it.


One bit of advice is to arrive early to stretch and also stretch yourself after class.


Hope this helps.

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Welcome Anders!


Michael filled you in on what to wear and good luck with your classes.


I've been to St. Petersburg, and have seen a performance at the Hermitage Theatre in the Winter Palace. Im sure many of us would be interested in reading about your ballet experiences in that beautiful city.



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Michael, thank you for the warm welcome and for your pointers. Yesterday, I went to a ballet shop and purchased my first ever pair of tights and a pair of technique shoes. I tried on a Capezio dance belt, but got a bit self-concious about how it made me look so huge :eek: , so I decided to put that off until after my first lesson. The shoes feel quite uncomfortable - the pads under the toe and heel make it feel like I'm walking on two ping pong ######. A matter of habit I suppose... By the way, should I wear socks in the shoes?


Glebb, I'm happy to hear that you too have been to St. Petersburg (in fact your name suggests that you may have Russian decent?). I have been to the Hermitage theater on several occasions, but never for ballet. One time was a Shostakovich symphony (I can't remember which) performed by the Hermitage Orchestra and the other was a vocal evening featuring a suite by Benjamin Britten, I believe, headed by a female guesting British conductor. The amphitheater setup is very quaint and intimate, but unfortunately the seats are quite uncomfortable. But what an atmosphere!


What really got me interested in ballet was a staging of Swan Lake at the so-called Maly Teatr (on the Art Square, across from the Philharmonic) in June this year. Ironically, the only reason I was there is that the St. Petersburg office of the law firm that I work for was hosting a visit by two secretaries from our Stockholm office, and the ballet was an item on their agenda. As it turned out, neither the office manager nor the resident partner were able to go that night as initially planned, so I volunteered to accompany our guests (after some initial objections, as it was on a Saturday, and I felt I had already had my share of late nights and weekend work :mad: ). I would not regret it, though. The swans were so perfectly aligned in straight rows (as if there was only one and the others were mere special effects achieved by ingeniously positioned mirrors), sometimes with their arms arched in the air - absolutely identically - for what seemed like several minutes while Siegfried and Odette were executing their solos in their midst in what my amateur eye perceived as pure perfection. I had never before seen such grace. The visiting secretaries were quite surprised to see me - the young up and coming lawyer - wiping tears from my eyes while leaving my seat in each intermission.


When my brother later came to visit, I saw another performance of the same ballet (as you may know, on any given night there is a Swan Lake being staged at at least one venue in St. Petersburg) at the Conservatory, across from the Marinsky. This time, however, the swans were all over the place, and the only lasting impression of the ballerina was that she sweated alot. (Sigfried made no lasting impression whatsoever.) Moreover, I was shocked to find that at this performance Sigfried and Odette conquered the sorceror and, I presume, lived happily ever after. I much prefer the tragic sacrifice of the other version. (After having browsed this board, I understand that what I saw at the Conservatory was the Soviet-style, or Bolshoi ending. At the time I thought it was a "light" version devised to please the tourists. You never know with those Russians ;) )


The thing about the ballet (and other fine art forms) in St. Petersburg is that it really is a people's pleasure, not only for the enlightened and privileged, like it tends to be in Sweden. Everyone goes! :D


Well, that's about it for now. Thank you both for your support. I will keep you posted on my progress. :)

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You can wear socks with shoes, lots of guys do. You can also go without, but I think wearing socks help your shoes last longer.


What kind of shoes did you get? Because the less expensive shoes seem to have more of a bump under the toes, the better ones are smoother there. You might consider getting a different pair. Cha Ching. Ping pong ######? Not good. Also, if you got the split sole kind of shoes, they can be a little weird feeling to a beginner with feet that aren't as strong. Maybe try something with a full sole because they are more supportive. Good luck.

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Anders: Please note that language such as you use to describe your reaction to wearing a dance belt will be taken as bragging or worse. While I suspect this was done as humor, this cannot be allowed here. Children and teens frequent the site, so please be careful.

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Thanks for the talk of Saint Petersburg, Anders. I can never get enough of it.


I know what you mean about the seating at the Hermitage Theatre, but I was on cloud nine sitting in the very seats of the Romanovs.


While I was in the Venice of the North, the Maryinsky was closed, so I hope to return some day to see ballet in that theatre. Also, my guide Kyra said she will set up a day at the school on Rossi street for me, next trip.


Another point of interest is Kschessinskaya's house. Did you ever pass it by? I did on my way to the Peter and Paul Fortress. It looks just as it did in pictures in her autobiography, except there seems to be more foliage around it these days.


Best of luck with your classes,



[ 09-07-2001: Message edited by: glebb ]

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Michael, I'm sorry about the belt crack, I was certainly not trying to bragg, much less offend (or corrupt) anyone. I just meant that I felt a little embarassed at how it made me look. I hear your argument, and won't bring up the subject again. (I guess I'll have to confront my vanity off-line.)


Andrew, I got a pair of Sansha pro shoes. If they don't work out, I'll consider trying a different brand, possibly with a full sole. It feels better with socks on. Thanks for info.


Glebb, no, I didn't see Kshessinskaya's house (in fact I didn't know who she was). I have a lot to catch up on in the world of ballet. :D

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Mathilde Kschessinska was the first famous Russian Ballerina. Her father was famous for his Mazurka. Tsarevitch Nicholas met her at her graduation dinner. His father, the Tsar, seated them together. They had chemistry but Nikolai could not marry her. He was deeply in love with another woman, a German princess.


Little K lived as royalty and even went on to marry a cousin of Nicholas II. When ever she was unhappy with how things were going at The Imperial Ballet, she would call Nicholas and over rule the director.


After the revolution she became a famous teacher in Paris, Margot Fonteyn being one of her students.


I believe she died at 97 years of age.


You can find her autobiography: DANCING IN PETERSBURG on Ebay.


How are classes going?

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I've got good news: I'm off to St. Petersburg tomorrow morning :) The bad news is it's in business, and there'll be no time to play, much less ballet :D But you can bet I'll be back in time for my first ballet lesson on Thursday! I'll keep you posted.

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Anders: Thank you for the tale of your first lesson. I too have entered the wrong dressing room on more than one occasion. Fortunately most seem to laugh it off. There are two theaters in Canada, Queen's Jubilee East and West (North and South?). They are mirrored designs. In the east I turned right into my dressing room, the west left. I kept going right out of habit and much to my partner's dismay - it was her dressing room. She finally put a sign on her door - "Wrong Room". I never did figure it out.

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