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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Need some help with choosing summer classes: Private Lessons

Chasse Away

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Chasse Away

So I’ve moved for the summer and am looking for some ballet classes. I found one school that does 1.5 hour “adult” advanced ballet and the class is pretty decent although small and the class consists of young adults. The teacher is knowledgeable and I like her class, although there is no pointe. 

Since there is only one class at that school I am looking for another one, or two classes, and my searches have come up empty. Right now my only other options is private lessons at studio B. I went to studio B so the teacher could assess me and it was there I found out that they don’t really offer any advanced lessons and their only other advanced student takes private lessons. The thing is I hate private lessons, because the teachers always harp on me for things (which is a good thing) but it’s hard focus on dancing when you’ve got someone breathing down your neck. If I was years younger and trying to go pro then sure by all means, but I’m old and I just want to dance and not pick apart my technique all class, like a little bit every class is good, but its exhausting to pick apart everything single muscle all class.

PLUS, she was also the kind of teacher who breaks everything down and verbally explains it. From my like 18 or so years dance I have found I make much more progress from actually dancing, getting a few corrections each class, but mainly dancing. To me, if you spend too much time taking in a dance class you waste time when you should be dancing. And, if you structure your dance class correctly, you can fix problems without saying anything at all. For example, if a dancers weight placement is incorrect, you could go on a ten minute rant to try to fix it, or you could just tell them to relax their elbow at the barre and they will be forced to fix their weight anyways.

My third concern is that she had me prep for pirouettes by tenduing to second and plieing straight to fourth. This is super incorrect in Vaganova as ladies start piroettes with a stretched back knee, then plie, then turn, but I feel like this prep was also wrong by other methods too.

I guess to summarize is that this school does seem very dolly-dinkel-esque, so if you were me, would you try these private lessons to get more hours of class in a week? Or do you think it will have negative effects on my technique? Or will it be neutral in the sense, but also not be worth it overall?



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I'd be looking at classes, rather than private lessons for all the reasons you list (and expense!), and in your position, wouldn't be too fussy about the level. A good beginners' class can keep your mind & body in tune.

In my small town, I can get 2-3 ballet classes a week, but only an hour long, and mostly at a fairly basic beginner level. However, the teacher is excellent and these classes keep me in shape for when I can get to more advanced classes in London or New York. We all need to practice pliés and tendus endlessly and even if taught at beginner level, we're still getting the input and practice.

The thing I do find which is very frustrating, but I have to live with, is that my skills in repertoire & combinations are slowly receding. I have to be brave & throw myself into higher level classes when I travel, but I find that the lack of practice at more complex combinations means that this is difficult (oh, and advancing age ...). But if it's just for the summer, try to find decently taught beginners classes if there is only one advanced level.


This is super incorrect in Vaganova as ladies start piroettes with a stretched back knee, then plie, then turn, but I feel like this prep was also wrong by other methods too.

Not in classes I've been in. These are small matters of choreography and style, rather than correct or incorrect. I tend to do en dehors pirouettes from 4th going straight from a plié (on both legs) - standard preparation is either in tendu centre practice - and there are many variations - for example, tendu to 2nd then 4th, or tendu devant to 4th. Or in an exercise across the floor from the corner, the old standard tombé, pas de bourrée, landing in 4th demi plie, and turn.

But it's all choreography - I do what the teacher sets.

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If there's another student at your level, maybe she'd prefer to have a class with another dancer too.  Perhaps that school (or another one) would be willing to do a 2 person class.  Cost should be less than a private but probably more than a regular class.  If you can find a couple other dancers, all the better.  And if you both tell the teacher the type of class you want (assuming you want the same thing), you should get it.  It's your money.  Good luck.

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