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Ballet Talk for Dancers

What do you do in class?


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Just out of interest what do you do in your classes?

For example,

I take 4 classes a week. 3 of them include learning variations from certain ballets for about 8-12 weeks. So we get to dance Le Corsaire, Swan Lake and various others. These are beginner and advanced beginner classes, and the teacher changed to this format a month or so back, and I really enjoy it a lot, as do a lot of the beginners. So we do an adagio variation, an allegro and a grande allegro. OK, these might not be the 'real' steps that you would see on stage, but they are adapted to our level, and the idea and feelings are the same though. At least you get to practice and practice until you get it right..or near enough in your mind.


My other class, is an intermediate class, and this one is way more tricky. For example, our teacher is obsessed with promenades in attitude, lots of developes, penchees and arabesques and normally a combiation of all 3, develope devon, through passe into arabesque, then into penchee. She loves long lines and our adagios seem to last forever. They are beautiful, but very tricky. For example, last week we had to do rond de jambes on l'air whilst promenading..good grief. bUt its fun in a different frustrating way. We sometimes do the same combinations 2 weeks running, but usually no more than that.



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My classes are quite ordinary, I think, with barre, center barre, adagio, and allegro. In my school the beginner levels usually have 60 minutes and advanced levels 90 minutes of class time.


Our combinations with possibly the exception of adagio and final allegro combination are quite strictly "learning combinations"; a care is taken to do things equally in both/all sides, reverse and such; the teacher gives the same combinations for one or two classes. There are separate repertory classes for the highest level students. (Which does not include me. :) )


At what part of class does is this repertory thing inserted in your school? Our classes already seem totally crowded with material - I just cannot imagine replacing anything since the stretch time has already been nipped next to nothing. Or did you mean the adagio and allegro combinations are taken from a certain ballet? :confused:


I got an unbeliabably tricky combination this week. It sounds very easy: grand battements alternating with grand plies. Trying to keep myself in time with the music, well aligned and adequately turned out thorough that, however, turned out to be a real challenge. :)

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Xena, your classes sound super! Even if you don't do all the steps normally in the repertoire this must be great for the feeling of doing proper dancing. Your teacher has a good imagination, because rather than doing boring (I mean the usual kind of thing aimed at adult beginners) centre work she is showing that it is possible to dance even when you don't know complicated stuff. Do you find that people in your class are generally inspired?


I had a teacher that did this kind of thing. I don't go regularly to the same place at the moment so I don't have a 'typical' class at the moment, but I'll describe what my favourite classes are like:


an hour and a half, the first half hour spent at the barre, some stretching exercises (led by the teacher, not independent stretching), then centre: tendus, adage, pirouettes, petit allegro and grand allego. Any time left at the end, demi-pointe or pointe work! And of course a kind of cool-down reverence with lots of full port de bras at the very end!

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Well, they started out doing the "boring stuff' ;) , but I think as beginner adults, they needed a bit of inspiration. The music is great as its music you have heard plenty of times, and now they actually get a chance to dance it and feel like they ar eon stage. OUr teacher changed to this format to make people more interested. I think she was finding that the adults liked something they could work on over a period fo time, as opposed to doing a different combination.

The combinations we do are quite good in the way they incorporate what you would normally be doing for say a set allegro exercise, or a set port de bras, so you get to do single or double pirouettes or just balance in passe if you're not up to turning. Its quite clever the way it is done as it makes you dance rather than just the feeling of 'oh, this is an exercise do practice such and such'.

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Guest Tibbit

Well, I have ballet 3 days a week, Tuesday and Thursday are intermediate ballet (90 minutes each night) and Wednesday is beginner ballet (60 minutes).

Our beginner ballet is not so easy though, because it is slowed down, she expects us to work harder and be more precise. All of us that do ballet take all 3 classes. Those of us that are more advanced take pointe after ballet on Tuesday, for a half an hour.

Our classes are usually pretty standard. New variations and choreography, but class is kept in the same order.

This last week and through the end of August, we have a different teacher, she is very good and very different. Our teacher (studio owner) felt that it would be good to have this sub, for variety and to learn new things pick up different stuff (such a technical word stuff is, LOL).

Also, we are having a guest teacher next Friday as a special class, again, to experience different style and technique (I guess that is the stuff I meant earlier). Almost like having a master class except all levels are welcome.

Our teacher is trying to enliven the studio and is definitely striving towards a larger studio with perhaps enough people to run the Nutcracker on a yearly basis and other fun things. Also she is trying to add new forms of dance too. Right now we have available ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, tap and aerobics and hip hop for the kids. She is currently looking to add a Irish dance teacher.

So for now we are getting quite a bit of variety with enough stability.

Sorry to drag on so.

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wow, no you didn't drag on at all. I find it fascinating and encouraging to hear other adult dancers having a a good time in their classes and being pushed with learning new 'stuff' ;) and having master clases every now and again. MAster classes are brilliant are they not? Sometimes in our intermediate class we have a modern dancer from a local dance company, ODC in this case, come and teach us ballet, and wow...it took me a while to get used to him, but we look forward to him popping in now and agian and taking our class.


I think it is good to hear what other adults are doing in their classes for another reason and that is because those that aspire to do ballet or to return to ballet, but have not yet taken the plunge read these forums, and I'm hoping listening to what we get up to in class will encourage them to go to that ballet class, and that it is not at all like they perhaps imagine it to be..but better :)

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Guest Tibbit

Thanks Xena.

I have never taken a ballet master class, but I have taken a number of modern master classes in college. They are just a blast. I imagine that while the ballet is still going to be ballet, a ballet master class should still be very challenging and exciting. I am just glad I will be able to attend.

It is always interesting to experience different methods and it really helps to experience different teachers as they just might have a different explaination, that helps you get that thing you have been struggling with. The slight change in explaination can make it all come clear "oh that is how you do it!".

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My classes are fairly standard adult beginner classes. The fall term begins next week, and I will be going on Monday, Thursday and Friday (on Friday I'll have two classes, one on my beginner2 level and one on the first, beginner1).


My main teacher keeps the same combinations (with slight variations) for about two or three weeks, and in addition last year we had one or two "longer projects", more tricky combinations moving across the floor that we did in the end of most classes.


I, for one, don't find the standard stuff boring, or not "dancey". What bothers me more is that as the beginner classes are only 60 minutes, time tends to get short too often. :mad:

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As I take syllabus classes, we do the same combinations week-in-week-out, though the selection we do in centre is pretty random from class to class - not time to do all of them! I'd have to agree with Jaana that I don't find the standard stuff boring at all, though - as a beginner, I'd much rather focus my effort on perfecting the same combinations, than on learning new ones at the possible expense of technique.


As for them not feeling 'dancey', I find every exercise from plies onwards to be 'dancey'! To consider 'danciness' as the level of connection felt between body and music, I think it's possible to feel it with even the simplest movements, and with pretty-much any music too - I certainly do. Out of interest, how many other people find this to be true? And how many people actually agree with this definition of 'danciness'?


I think that maybe I'm unusual in that I don't really personally view ballet as a performing art - I consider it more as a spiritual practice, like yoga. If this makes any sense, my aspiration is not to be a ballet performer but simply to be a ballet dancer, and I actually find it more inspiring to watch professional dancers in class than to watch them on stage. The true beauty of ballet is more evident when it's stripped down of all the show, I think.



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Guest beckster

Xena, those "repertoire" classes sound fantastic! If we manage to come out and visit you (thesis permitting - arrgh) then I'm bringing my ballet shoes and we are going to one. No arguments.

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Mr Robin,


I have to agree with that, at least to some extent. I enjoy watching ballet on stage too, of course, but for me the beauty of ballet seems to be also in the class and not only on the stage, and also in the simple movements and not only in the "actual dance".


Whenever there is a ballet document on TV, I always wish they showed more classes and rehearsals and less stage pieces in it. :)

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What I mean about the 'boring' stuff was that you don't have to do everything like an RAD exercise - that is good and satisfying and it can be done beautifully. However, when you know you are doing a dance with a beginning, a middle and an end which a choreographer has put together to tell part of a story, it means a lot more.


One time we did an adage to a tune I recognised but wasn't sure what it was. It was lovely - although required a lot of control. After we'd done it twice though our teacher said, 'that was beautiful. Did you know it was (a part I can't remember) of La Sylphide?' And that was in the first beginners' class I ever went to. We all felt really chuffed with oursleves! That never happened again though. I'm still hoping to get something like that again!;)

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The school that I am hoping to join in September sounds like it's a more 'creative' class. When I spoke to the Ballet Mistress before the end of last term she made the classes sound really interesting, and not structured around a certain syllabus. She's ex-Opera Ballet (now RB) and was Ballet Mistress at the Alberta Ballet Company in Canada (? - if anyone knows anything about them could they let me know), so I have high hopes!


I hope to take 3-4 classes a week and work to go back on pointe - my boyfriend thinks I'm crazy when he comes in the kitchen when I'm doing dinner and finds me doing releves etc!!


Anyway, I have to 'audition' yet so we'll wait and see!

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I think there must be enough of the technique work for progress in repertory work to be made.


During the dance camp I had a daily repertory class, rehearsals and a performance, and I enjoyed dancing a piece of a real ballet tremendously. However, dancing in "a real piece" also made me very aware of my technical inadequacies - it felt like the music and choreography deserved a dancer with better lines, cleaner and faster legwork, better balance and more turn-out.


The experience made me even more motivated to work hard in my ordinary classes. After all, it was the past year of effort that had made me able to dance that day - without the strength and technical background given by the "boring stuff", learning that piece in a week would have been impossible.


I like ordinary classes. I've discovered I also like repertory classes. However, I'm almost sure I would not like the repertory classes without the ordinary classes. The disrepancy in the skill needed and the skill I have would become mentally too crushing if I wasn't doing anything to correct it. :)

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Kate B,


I must admit that I have never been to a real set syllabus classes, as my school doesn't have such. Doing the same combinations every class week in week out for a year or two would certainly get boring for me too, even though doing the same basic stuff in different combinations doesn't... :)

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