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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Kathryn Morgan as Supplemental Instruction?


Calairiel

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I don't know what it is like where everyone else lives, but I do not seem to live in the best area for ballet schools. I either have to commute far or settle for one or two classes a week, so I am feeling like I will be doing a lot of training at home if I ever want to advance.

 

So I have been following Kathryn Morgan's Youtube channel since around the time it was brand new. I really enjoy the free barre and center workouts she provides as they feel like true ballet more than any "ballet" class I took as a teen. I also find all of her workout videos to be safe and intelligent. I also pay to have access to her extensive video library on PowHow which I have found more helpful than even the classes I used to take and private instruction I get now. So I was wondering what other people here think of utilizing what she puts out as supplemental instruction? In my case, since I am currently trying to find a school, her online classes are actually my main instruction but I know I'm improving because my instructor is giving me different corrections and starting to challenge me more during this in person instruction. My instructor seems to be an overly cautious teacher, she rarely challenges me. I really like the focus on basic technique but it seems almost like she is afraid to give me something I will find difficult or maybe not be able to do perfectly. When I started studying at home a few more days a week, suddenly it seemed like she began to advance me in her class and teach me more complicated or challenging steps. And suddenly I could do them.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would ask your teacher whether Kathryn Morgan's style of dancing (her technique) is complementary to the classes that you are taking.

 

I have done a little bit of teaching and it is very challenging to try to give some attention to all deserving students in the class. Seems like a positive sign that you have gotten some new corrections lately.

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I've recently started using her Powhow videos and really, really like them. She gives such wonderful instruction - very helpful. I can only take 1 or 2 drop-in adult classes a week, so her classes finally give me the chance to do a class every single day, which is what I've wanted forever. Love the way she teaches.

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I sympathize about looking for good classes, located at a reachable place, at a time of day you can manage and so on --

 

Watching a bit of the K Morgan video, it looks pretty interesting...... a question: when you follow a class on a youtube vid, may i ask, do you set up a computer somewhere you also have room to do the exercises? (My computer is at a desk with literally no room to stretch a leg..... how do you set it up to follow a class on youtube and do the exercises while seeing the video at the same time?) Thanks in advance for explaining! I am able to get to classes in my area, but I'd be interested in trying the video idea if i have a way to do the exercise and watch at the same time.....?.

 

Just a comment that i have also found it really helpful and enjoyable to watch classes online such as archived World Ballet Day company classes from major companies - it is not a substitute for doing the exercises (again i can't, at my computer), but watching them, i feel some added awareness in my "live" class after watching these classes. I'll admit, some of them i have watched several times and gotten so much help from, and from these world-class teachers. (again K Morgan seems very interesting -- i just am not familiar w/ her yet -- i've only watched a small bit of her video so far) -

 

Best wishes for finding classes you like and feel happy to go to!

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The main problem is that when you're just learning, you can't correct yourself, so you could be embedding bad habits. Goodness knows, we all have enough bad habits in class! By that I mean that if you start to learn ballet as an adult, or take it up after some training in your teens and a long hiatus, there will be ways that you body works and moves which won't be naturally technically appropriate, so the long slow work of doing class is to gradually retrain your body, mind, muscle memory & proprioception into classical ballet technique.

 

That needs the tactful knowledge of a teacher who can see you & correct you. And corrections aren't just the individual ones, but the whole class ones. If you feel you need to do supplemental training, I'd ask your teacher about it. S/he can see how your body is aligned & how it works.

 

I can see the attraction of YouTube videos, but they're not really a ballet class as such. I wonder if your time outside of a live class is better spent cross-training - working on your strength, aerobic fitness, core strength and general flexibility? With two classes a week, plus say, Pilates/yoga, some aerobic fitness work, and some strength work, your ballet is bound to improve.

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I admit I love these video but I use them more for a warm up before a rehearsal when I know cannot make it to the real barre (or there is no set barre at all, like just before a show) and also during the summer just before starting again, just to get the body moving (I'm really bad at doing my own combination) and to try to minimize the muscle soreness !! For really appreciate them you already have to have a certain level as the tempo on some exercise is pretty fast and you can take bad habit for trying to go to fast to soon...

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The main problem is that when you're just learning, you can't correct yourself, so you could be embedding bad habits. Goodness knows, we all have enough bad habits in class! By that I mean that if you start to learn ballet as an adult, or take it up after some training in your teens and a long hiatus, there will be ways that you body works and moves which won't be naturally technically appropriate, so the long slow work of doing class is to gradually retrain your body, mind, muscle memory & proprioception into classical ballet technique.

 

That needs the tactful knowledge of a teacher who can see you & correct you. And corrections aren't just the individual ones, but the whole class ones. If you feel you need to do supplemental training, I'd ask your teacher about it. S/he can see how your body is aligned & how it works.

 

I can see the attraction of YouTube videos, but they're not really a ballet class as such. I wonder if your time outside of a live class is better spent cross-training - working on your strength, aerobic fitness, core strength and general flexibility? With two classes a week, plus say, Pilates/yoga, some aerobic fitness work, and some strength work, your ballet is bound to improve.

 

:clapping: :clapping: :clapping: :clapping: :clapping: :clapping: :clapping: :clapping:

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i have also found it really helpful and enjoyable to watch classes online such as archived World Ballet Day company classes from major companies -

For a couple of weeks after World Ballet Day, my teacher adapted some of the centre practice combinations from a variety of the World Ballet day streams of daily class for our classes. In some cases, she didn't have to adapt - we did the combination as the professionals did. It just goes to show that the building blocks of technique are the same for profesionals and beginners! Which I find really reassuring.

 

I had a look at a few Morgan videos (just the free ones) and they're a good basic barre, but she doesn't mention anywhere why she doesn't connect her heels in first position. I assume that's how she works with her hyperextended knees (although a lot of teachers & coaches advocate trying to minimise the gap), but if you don't know what hyperextension is, nor have you seen a teacher advise a student in class, or been advised yourself, then that alone gives a rather odd impression of work in first position.

 

I don't mean to pick on Ms Morgan, but I suspect that her videos etc is as much about building a "brand" around her, her lifestyle, her public image as a "ballerina" - I prefer the rather staider instructional videos from David Howard - the precision and finish of the dancers demonstrating the exercises i s a joy to behold and something to remember & learn! or Finis Jhung.

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I prefer the rather staider instructional videos from David Howard - the precision and finish of the dancers demonstrating the exercises i s a joy to behold and something to remember & learn! or Finis Jhung.

 

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with these suggestions. As a teacher David Howard and Finis Jhung are two of my "go to" people for inspiration on how to help my students learn.

 

That said, I still agree with Redbookish's earlier comments that you can't just learn from a DVD - even a great DVD. You as a student don't always see the technical issues you might be having - you just don't know what you don't know - so you can't see it sometimes. That's why you pay money to go to a class to have someone tell you something you didn't know!

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Redbookish -- Thanks for your comments-- i agree w/ what you are saying.

Just a comment...... that though i have a highly competent teacher, seeing world-class teachers and dancers in a class (such as the ROH or San Francisco World Ballet Day class) on my own, outside of class has been a tremendous resource in improving my technique.......... (Oh THAT'S how a turned out leg looks in a grand rond de jamb en l'air.......... oh,that is what bringing the knee back really is, and looks like......) It is not that this is a substitute for a class.

Maybe it is a bit of "monkey see monkey do", but i consider it pleasurable, interesting and helpful, in conjunction with my several times a week classes that i take.......

On youtube there is such a variety of ballet performances and all manner of rehearsals (Mariinsky, ROH and so on!) and classes one can see, those that are world class, highest quality -- i watch them if i have time, to augment my live, actual learning in class. These on-line resources (including BT4D, too!) I've found helpful - along with the learning in class.........

Just my opinion as to what has worked for me or as least i think it has, always trying to improve what i can do to improve...... (need all the help i can get.......) :yes:

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Oh yes, Ludmilla, absolutely about watching the great teachers & their interactions with the great dancers of this world. I was glued to the screen watching the Bolshoi class on World Ballet Day - the teacher is i his 70s and as captivating as any of the world-class dancers in that company.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1D7HlM3JSA

 

Here it s again (the test pattern goes away after about 50 seconds).

 

But watching these sorts of films/vids is not the same as taking class live, with a real live teacher, proper feedback and corrections, and classmates to learn from.

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Thanks so much for posting this link!! I had not been able to watch or find the Bolshoi class and video from World Ballet Day of 2015! (Or, it had an error message each time i tried to play it.) This link works well now - thank you, thank you! I can't wait to watch this and look for the marvelous teacher you're talking about....... :huepfen:

 

I agree, Redbookish -- watching this is nothing like working in a class yourself with an actual, qualified teacher, getting actual or sometimes personal corrections, of course. (... might compare it to watching a cooking show vs. cooking a recipe yourself/taking a hands-on cooking class/eating a meal......definitely different - a very different learning tool.)

 

if i were not taking regular classes and working to improve in technique and learn more, the World Ballet Day classes and all manner of other wonderful performances, etc. online probably would not be of that much interest to me.... The learning tools for ballet (and any subject really) online these days is virtually limitless - amazing to live in this era as far as learning/long-distance learning goes. Very interesting hearing your, and others' views on it -- Thanks again.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm back! Actually a lot has changed since I made this post, though to clarify, my teacher did know about it and thought it was great. She can't really teach me anymore though, her health has been in decline a long time, so I finally jumped into a new studio. The new studio teaches Cecchetti which I'm not familiar with and it will be twice a week, which is better than the once a week I was getting.

 

As a kid/teen I learned Balanchine like technique, same as what Kathryn teaches though with less instructions. I could probably learn from Kathryn with a mirror and my Mom to correct me for the rest of my life and learn dance one hundred times better than my childhood studio cared to teach. But I digress.

 

My old teacher, who taught me and one other girl at most, taught Royal Academy. She sent me home with the graded DVD's and had me practice the barres at home. She told me as long as I use correct technique (RAD technique) and focus on her corrections she gave each week she thought it would be a good way to get more practice since she couldn't give us very much. Honestly she was the person who put it in my head that if I ever want to advance I *have* to cross train and practice some sort of ballet technique every day.

 

As for the new studio, I haven't mentioned it yet. But the classes are really hard (I've only been to two so far and they just had an open house so they were packed). So since I went there last week I have only done a couple of Kathryn's beginner ballet classes from PowHow to practice the new technique I learned.

 

Maybe I'm just strange but I just like to have some set choreography to practice at home so I can focus on correcting any problems the teacher pointed out in class. I remember a lot of the old RAD barres I learned, and I can do them to my own music, I just like having a video in front of me. Actually I've considered buying Finis Jung's DVD's to practice too. But I just paid tuition for school, tuition for a new studio and for Christmas stuff. So I was planning on getting one next month or maybe later. Any suggestions for which to buy are welcome! I can only afford one at first but I'd love to build a collection.

 

As for cross training I do pilates three times a week, I really like Blogilates. I used to follow the calander and do it six but my old teacher encouraged me to focus more on ballet. So now I do it three and cover the arms, core and butt/legs days. If the new teacher doesn't approve I'll go back to that. I don't really care so much if people are branding themselves as long as I feel like it actually helps me. I have followed Cassey for four years, since before the Blogilates brand was huge, and it never bugged me. I won't start disliking Kathryn unless I really feel that she isn't posting helpful content anymore. Same for Cassey. But I do respect the opinions of everyone here.

 

For clarification I have been dancing for about three years with a teacher, so there wasn't a point where I was allowed to learn bad technique alone. The five years before that at my first studio were completely different. I also started with the PowHow videos instead of the Youtube ones. The Youtube ones (other than the Easy Barre) were too fast and difficult for me until very recently. I still feel rushed doing them, though that's about the level of my new studio. But I prefer to do the easy ones that are a bit below my level and focus on doing them right. So maybe supplemental instruction is the wrong way to put it. I just really enjoy the practice. Though if my teacher disagrees with this idea I will happily return to following Cassey's calenders and working on little things at home. I hope that answered everyone's questions.

Edited by Redbookish
To add paragraphs so your post is more readable.
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Oh, Ludmilla, I watch them on my phone and do it in my bedroom. So no turns or big jumps. I have a chair that works as a little barre and I can pick up my phone and move it wherever I need to see it.

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Calairiel, it sounds as though you didn't have the best beginning in your first studio, but that you're now getting into the basics of ballet. Despite minor choreographic differences between RAD and Cecchetti, it's all ballet! So it's great you've found another studio where you can do 2 classes a week. That will really help you getting the basics absolutely solid, as repetition is part of the process.

 

If you're attending class at a studio that does a set syllabus then you will adapt to learn the combinations for that syllabus. Like you, some adult beginners do find that having set exercises helps them learn the basics well, so that they don't have to think about the choreography, but can focus on technique.

 

Good luck in your new classes!

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