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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Etiquette Regarding Asking for Corrections

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Hi everyone,

First off I want to say that I'm absolutely loving my class. It's swiftly become the highlight of the week, and I hope eventually I will be able to arrange things so that I can attend more classes. The instructor for my intro class is a delight, and she always tries to stick around after class for questions for which I am grateful.

One thing I have noticed is that there's not really any corrections being given during class. There are gentle reminders spread out before various segments to remind us what we should be trying to do as far as alignment such as lifting up from the sides and pulling belly button towards the spine. I'm just never sure if I'm doing the movement properly or if something needs to be corrected. I know I'm an adult beginner and not looking to make it a career, I'd still like to know that I'm able to execute things the proper way.

The class is quite small on the day that I can make it, with maybe a half dozen of us on a larger day right now. I don't know if it is appropriate to ask for such corrections, even if the feedback is saved for the end of class. If it is appropriate to ask, how would you suggest I broach the topic without coming across like I'm being needy or trying to monopolize her time? I would also rather not inadvertently make other students, or the instructor, uncomfortable.

I do my best to monitor myself during class, but doing so also ends up bringing other issues. One example being ensuring I didn't let my turn out slip to where my knees are not where they should be. When i go to check I then catch myself letting my hips tilt which causes my rear to stick out. Granted it's also very easy to think you have it right, but outside observance shows you are way off the mark. I just feel like there is only so much I can do to monitor myself and that that sort of feedback would be helpful.


As always thank you for your time and wisdom!

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If it's a basic beginners' class (including people like you who are learning from scratch) it could be that the teacher is mindful of not overwhelming her students with too much at once. As you have noted, 

2 hours ago, Kerrida said:

One example being ensuring I didn't let my turn out slip to where my knees are not where they should be. When i go to check I then catch myself letting my hips tilt which causes my rear to stick out.

it's complicated! (and we all know exactly what you mean - we're all trying to process so much, all at the same time, just as you explain :wink:

Also, increasingly adult beginners find being touched to be corrected unacceptable (it's silly & wrong, but they don't know that, I suppose). And some adult beginners find the idea of "corrections" to be intimidating and offensive (again, wrong but go figure ...!)

So maybe your teacher has had experiences with adults leaving her class because of personal and/or hands-on corrections? Or responding badly or complaining? So she gives general all-class corrections. 

Maybe take advantage of her time after class to say to her that you're concerned about getting your alignment right (your example I've quoted above) and you'd appreciate that if she saw you were getting really out of kilter, you have no problem with her correcting you individually either verbally, or by using hands on corrections to help you feel the correct body placement. 

(I've written this quite formally, but I'm sure you can find a more casual way to say this in a conversation in a way that your teacher will appreciate).

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The population of the class has been a bit interesting, especially lately.There are a few girls who drop into the class and take it en pointe, a few that have been with the teacher for a year or more, and most recently one of the former company dancers who now teaches there has been dropping in as well. Though for the more advanced people, she lets them adjust/add more to the exercise to work out what they need while keeping it more basic for the newcomers. That made for an interesting time when on the second pass through I was facing the more advanced ladies in class this past time and my brain started wanting to follow what they were doing. 

I admit, I do not see how someone could start ballet and not expect the potential of corrections, verbal or physical. I can understand being intimidated by them, especially if it's your first couple of classes and you do not know anyone. I was nervous about that my first few classes, but I had braced for it to possibly happen, especially since part of the paperwork filled out prior to starting to take classes explicitly stated that the instructors my have to touch you to give corrections. There is just so much going on that's required to open to body up to the proper movements, and do so safely, that it seems like it'd be impossible and futile to learn without getting such corrections. I suppose those that are only there for exercise wouldn't care as much, but even then a solid foundation is best if only for safety.

Thank you for the suggestion on how to approach her about it. I know that once I have the proper feel lock in I can monitor by that rather than having to break focus to visually inspect constantly. Next step, swallowing anxiety and shyness long enough to be able to coherently speak to her. I'm just glad that it's not utterly inappropriate to inquire.

Thanks again Redbookish, you all here have been an immense help as I've started down this amazing journey.

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Just chiming in to say I agree with Redbookish.  There are lots of adult students who either don't want or aren't comfortable with corrections, and it's also true that beginner students are often overwhelmed.  However, if you let your teacher know either before or after class that you really want to get everything right and absolutely welcome corrections, you may find you get a lot more of them!  

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There is also the fear factor on the part of the teachers. Kids generally have more range of motion than adults, and can safely be physically manipulated. All it takes for us older folks is one move taken a smidge too far and we are not dancing for a few weeks. I have had to ask for teachers to not touch my right leg, for example, because it has a limited range of motion, but HAVE asked that they have fun with the left one! 

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I teach adults in the Pilates realm of things at several different businesses in the city.  In the general lunch-hour mat class held at the hydro building, I tend to teach more generally, calling out group corrections (occasionally while looking at one specific person) in a "make sure you..." way, and I call out modifications the same way (if you're up for a challenge....).  At the gym I teach at, I do the same thing.  For one thing, both of these classes are quite large, and the clients for the most part just want to move.  (As I suspect some adult ballet students feel.)  If I see something dangerous though, I will absolutely go over to that person to deliver a personal correction.

In the dedicated Pilates studio, I teach very differently.  I do state to all intro clients that I will be doing hands-on corrections, and then I keep an eye on them as the class goes to see how well they're doing with it.  (Sometimes I simply move my hands an inch away from their body--they then get the idea, but aren't uncomfortable).  These clients are different because many of them are coming for rehab purposes and are looking for that sort of correction.  I always start all of my classes, Pilates, Barre, or dance, with the question, "does anyone have any injuries/restrictions I should know about?" which helps me watch for and be careful of things like AncientDancer's leg.

All of that said, if any of my corporate or gym clients asked me to give hands-on corrections I certainly would.  I notice a couple of my corporate clients, despite me encouraging questions to be asked before we do the exercise, tend to wait until after class and ask me privately.

So teaching adults can be a bit of a minefield, and I second the advice about telling the teacher that you welcome corrections.  We as teachers need to know what kind of client/student you are, and it's so much easier if you just tell us!  Don't be nervous about talking to a teacher about wanting to improve; that's what they are there to help you do! 

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Acsballerina, I have to chuckle that you ask a class before starting if anyone has issues or restrictions.  I took a registered Pilates series of classes and the instructor did just that, and wrote everyone’s ailments down. It took half the class time. I was the only fully mobile healthy person there apparently. 

As as an adult ballet student I have noticed that corrections can be few and far between and definitely more general and directed to the group as a whole. I took a drop in class in a large city once and the instructor didn’t leave me alone and I was thrilled  but I can see it might be difficult for some.  


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Oh I don't write them down!  I can retain that information for an hour 🤣. It's usually a one-minute thing--but then again I never have more than 8 clients at the Pilates studio at one time, and it seems all of my other clients are pretty able-bodied.  My teenage dance students on the other hand...

We're required to ask that as Pilates teachers, and in classes at the RWB students are expected to inform teachers of injuries at the beginning of class, so it's a doubly-enforced habit at this point. :)

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4 hours ago, ascballerina said:

All of that said, if any of my corporate or gym clients asked me to give hands-on corrections I certainly would

I've often thought of saying to teachers (and particularly my regular teacher) "I don't mind hands on corrections" but then I think that that might be presuming or pretentious or demanding!

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4 hours ago, iceberg*lover said:

I took a drop in class in a large city once and the instructor didn’t leave me alone and I was thrilled

Are ballet students the only people in the world to feel that when we are corrected (for going a bit wrong) we have actually succeeded? Where having your faults pointed out is cause for celebration!?

I know that if I do a class, and am not corrected, I assume I sucked, and was not worth the teacher's notice. Are we all weird, or what? :P :D

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Maybe pick a correction the teacher did do (even if it was to the class) and go up after class and thank her for it.  Then you can say something like "I find corrections really helpful, please feel free to tell me when I don't have it right or move me to the right position."  If the teacher has a reason for not giving many corrections, you may hear about it at that point.

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Redbookish, you are right. Nobody else out there would get so excited to be told they’re doing something wrong. 

After the class I texted my daughter and told her how it went, her reply- “Oh Momma I’m so happy for you”. Only a dancer would get it!! 

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I still have a hard time grasping the thought of someone not wanting to be corrected when they are doing things incorrectly. Being overwhelmed and needing fewer of them so as to not get overly discouraged, sure that I can understand. Of course limited mobility certainly plays a factor as we get older, but I couldn't imagine any instructor would not respect that if the student mentions such. I can also understand being scared of getting such corrections, especially when new, since it could easily bring attention to you which can be rather uncomfortable for someone who is shy.

Redbookish, I can't help but laugh at the mental image the thought of dancers celebrating corrections. I would try to say that this absolutely does not apply to me, but then I stop and think back over my history with various pursuits. With just about any other activity, I'd see my teammates/fellow students grumping about being called out while I'm sitting there trying to pick apart the correction to determine what I needed to do to adjust my own to incorporate the correction. I tend to throw myself utterly into whatever activity I'm pursuing and seek to absorb everything I possibly can.

I'll definitely approach her tomorrow and ask about the possibility of more individualized corrections.  If such is something that'd come after the class, I will absolutely be okay with that. Either way, it will help me be able to identify the 'feel' of proper alignment and execution.


Thank you again everyone!

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Some just come for the fun of it. I went to a class years ago - only once - where the people did an exercise, chatted for 10 minutes, did another barre exercise, chatted again, and so on. In 30+ minutes, they only did three sets of barre exercises, then moved to the center. Needless to say, I sat at that point and explained I wasn’t warm enough yet (politely). The teacher realized I was looking for more serious work and directed me to a particular studio which suited my wants. 

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The teacher where I go oftentimes “chats” a fair bit (not just corrections) between exercises but there are no other options where I live....  the class also starts late usually as most come with only a minute or 2 to spare... but this is another topic!

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