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Ballet Talk for Dancers

I got annoyed by this adult classmate


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Goodness! I am sometimes really surprised by what goes on in class - or to and from class - when I am busy trying to _teach_ said class. 

If I ever _do_ catch a whiff of someone being insensitive or downright rude to another student, I try to address it as soon as possible; sadly, I do not always know if something like that is going on. 

As to (mostly newer) students not knowing the etiquette of ballet class, yes, that happens all the time. I guess people are really very different, no? Personally if I am new to something, I do not position myself down centre front; I try to hold back and pick up as much as I can on my own before asking for help. And so do most students. There are exceptions, and as the teacher, I do admit to sometimes being so surprised by their behaviour that I am at first shocked into silence and paralysis. 


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  • 9 months later...
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  • Redbookish


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I love this thread!  I know this thread may be a bit stale, but being a beginner I appreciate being clued in to studio etiquette.  I am looking for a copy of the book referred to above, "Ballet Etiquette 101."  My teacher and class mates will appreciate you sending me a copy!  

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I think the best rules for Ballet etiquette is - always assume there is someone in the room who knows more, has more experience, or is better than you in the room.
When a student comes in with that kind of attitude, they are looking to learn and grow.  Looking to learn from the teacher and for others in the class. A dancer who assumes they are the best in the room thinks they have nothing to learn.

Learning never ends in this beautiful art form!

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My main "Ballet Etiquette 101" is common sense: the dancer who is moving across the floor in the combination set by the teacher has right of way. Always. 

Get out of the way!!!!

There are some great old threads about space, behaviour in class, and so on - you might enjoy this one, MattMan:


I think it's difficult for teachers of adult students, especially those who didn't study ballet as children. Teachers have to treat adults as adults, and a lot of adults do not like being told how to behave in specific ways, or understand why they need to. But I think it would really help if teachers (oh dear, I'm thinking of my home studio) introduced some principles of space as a way of introducing the history and "special" etiquette of a class. 

As a child, you're taught how to space yourself in class - in rows across the studio, coming quite a way forward, with those behind standing in the gap between the two in front of you, and so on, to the back row. We also were required to swap rows all the time, and you weren't permitted to keep on hiding at the back. Adult classes with a lot of beginners tend to get further and further to the back of the room - so I am "that" person who takes a position firmly in the front, because there's more space! I am a bit of a space hog, I know, and that's something I have to work on.

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In my experience teaching adults as well as being just out in the wild, it's taken about two months for adults to learn what 6 ft of space is.  Maybe when we all get back to class we'll find everyone's spatial awareness is suddenly better!

I don't know the handbook "Ballet Etiquette 101", but Gaynor Minden has this poster with some common rules!

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Love that poster, I seriously lol’d at “public displayed of affection”. 

If it’s missing one thing it would be “telling other dancers to do something when you aren’t the teacher”, I’m not sure how you illustrate this on a poster, but it’s a pretty important rule. 

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ASC, that poster is really great, as is Red's offered thread on spacing, and stalling out mid-center.  This discussion makes me want to speak with my teacher at class tonight and specifically invite her to give me corrections on all matters, including etiquette, at any time.   Sometimes there seems to be poor behaviors that as a beginner I am simply not aware of, including standing still between exercises and not practicing at the barre while the group ahead or behind is working across the floor in grand allegro.  I am so blessed with the graceful patience of my instructor and fellow students towards this sometimes otherwise clueless beginner.  Their generosity makes me love the culture of ballet even more!

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MattMan, I think it’s generally considered alright to practice off to the side/at the back while another group is going down the room, as long as you don’t disrupt them and stay out of their way. Basically anything at the barre is fine as long as you aren’t in their way. Marking the exercise is usually fine. Anything else could be fine as long as it’s not obnoxious and distracting (i.e. doing a bunch of pirouettes/grande allegro). It depends on the class though I suppose.

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9 hours ago, Chasse Away said:

Love that poster, I seriously lol’d at “public displayed of affection”. 

If it’s missing one thing it would be “telling other dancers to do something when you aren’t the teacher”, I’m not sure how you illustrate this on a poster, but it’s a pretty important rule. 

This is a lifelong thing :lol:  I used to enjoy looking for that one five-year-old at recitals who stands and directs everyone in the class, completely forgetting that they are also supposed to be dancing!!

Adding onto ChasseAway's post above, I have spent a lot of time and effort teaching students that it is ok to mark and practice quietly on the side.  That is how you improve!!  You might only do something on the music once or twice in class, but if the other group is going, and you're still working on it in a way that doesn't bother anyone, you've now done it those extra couple times!!


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But if you are marking on the side, be really clear you are marking, rather than waiting to go next across the floor. It can get confusing ...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Don’t let the lady’s comment get to you; she didn’t mean to intentionally hurt you.  And as some people have posted, it’s really the teacher that needs to do the correcting.  

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