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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ballet as a living, changing art


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I purposely put this post in the students section because my question relates not to performance, but rather, to what we as students prefer and enjoy.


I, like many of us, have several teachers. One of them, very distinguished, comes from the Royal Ballet and takes a very 'pure' approach to technique. For example, when a number of students do a rond de' jambe preparation en dedans by leaning the upper body forward, she explains that this is most decidedly *not* ballet, and that it has its roots in modern dance and flat out should not be done. Another teacher, also distinguished but with more varied training, includes this in her barre, making the point that the preparation did not originate this way, but for many, has evolved to this point.


This dichotomy is not isolated, but rather emblematic of two different teaching styles. I've found that I actually prefer a teacher who knows, understands and respects traditional movement, but is also eager to broaden the vocabulary. What about the rest of you?

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OK, since it's about student opinion, and not about a definitive answer regarding performance, or technique or other such items, it's an Adult Buddy Board topic!:) And away we go!

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unny, what you are describing in your last sentence 'I prrefer a teacher who knows, understands and respects traditional movement, but is also eager to broaden the vocabulary" is what being a ballet teacher should be all about.


I think so long as the teachers you dance with are really good, (i.e. have good credentials, and good dance background and have what I quoted) then you can only pick up good things. Of course, each teacher will have their method of teaching and you will inevitably pick up certain ways to do things from each teacher. BUt that is where the adaptability of being a ballet dancer comes into play. Hopefully , you will not pick up bad habits, or those that you do, will be picked up by another teacher. After all that is why we go to class and that is why professional dancers always go to class, as you do pick up weird things every now and again and a teacher is really the only one who can spot these things.


Having had what feels like so many teachers over the last 6 or so years, I have gotten used to the fact that what was acceptable in one teachers class, is not the way things are done in this class, and so on and so on. So now I just go with the flow. But as I have had a good grounding in ballet I know the correct way to place my body and if a teacher tells me to do something that I am not used to, I will say " I have been taught this way? Why is your way better or was the way I had been taught before, incorrect?'. Usually , they will then give me a perfectly logical answer and it makes total sense and I'm then happy doing it their way. But I like to ask Why.

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I have not been studying ballet long enough to pick sides in the traditionalist/modernist debate, but as an absolute beginner I know I appreciated predictability and tradition. After all, it is classical ballet that I set out to learn. For this reason, I do not think that I would appreciate learning things that do not qualify as classical ballet (I could take modern and jazz, etc for that). That said, I have always taken two different classes (for different teachers) in parallell, this term even three. One thing I have learned is that even within the confines of classical ballet, no two teachers have the same way of doing things or put the emphasis on the same aspects of ballet (with the exception of "pull up out of your hips", "turn-out"). Having different teachers is a great way to stay open and not lay back and stagnate within a particular way of doing things.

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I, too, have only done ballet for a year, and I, too, feel that in this beginning stage I'd like things to be very purely ballet. I'd like to learn the basic, pure, all-accepted forms first, and only after that start to variate.


I realize, of course, that there are variations that some consider "pure" and some others hate. But even then I like it to be as clear as possible, for instance when my teacher sometimes makes remarks like "so-and-so do this differently" or "there's two variations of this going around, we'll use this one and I'll briefly show you the other so you won't be confused if you see it somewhere".

Later, when I have a solid basis of the very basics, variations will be more welcome. :)

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