Category Archives: Classes

The sinister left side

Why do we always start on the right AND mark the combination on the right? My left side only gets half the ballet class that the right receives. Would it be so bad to switch it up every once in a while? I’ve been noticing lately in the center that my left arm is a bit of a straggler. It hangs a little lower in 2nd position, isn’t as quick to respond to arm changes, and typically wants to do its own thing. Sometimes I’m pretty sure left side is still in bed or watching Saturday morning cartoons. Left side would be much better prepared if it got the same attention as the right. I’m right handed (or right legged/footed – whatever we happened to be using) and naturally my right side is better. My brain has to decode and really concentrate when we switch it over to the left. Sometimes this just doesn’t happen, especially on exercises where we go across the room. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to give the left more of a challenge? Curious as to how left handers cope with such an emphasis on the right.

That old heel…

I have to really focus to keep my weight towards my toes and off my heels.  It just feels so strange.  When I finally get it just right – I’m way off the combination.  UGH

This is a constant correction in my Saturday College Class.  Directed to everyone – but I know I’m a habitual offender.

KEEP YOUR WEIGHT TOWARDS THE TOES!!!

Over and over again.

Mirror mirror on the wall – whose foot sickles most of all?

This week’s correction at the studio class was regarding hair. “Hair should be in a bun and not a ponytail.  It is too distracting when it swooshes around.” Interesting because the dress code for the studio class is more laid back than the college class.  I’m the only person wearing a leotard and tights.  That was the only correction I received for the whole class – which is kind of disappointing.  I know there was a lot more I could have done better, but only that one comment on hair.  I understand that it is a fine balance for the teacher. How much do you correct in the recreational adult classes?  Over do it and some people could find it too discouraging or embarrassing and will stop showing up.  Not enough and students feel like they are not taken seriously.  Our teacher made the comment that we should use the mirror and be our own harshest critic, but that only works when we’re in the center because it’s hard to even see the mirror while standing at the barre let alone correct oneself.

A.R.M.S.

Awkward
Rigid
Motionless
Sticks

Also known as my arms.  More corrections on arms this weekend.  They are driving me crazy.  They don’t want to move exactly with the feet.  My 2nd position arms are always an issue.  My shoulders start creeping up as soon as my arm goes out.  Next thing you know my shoulders will be above my head.  How do you keep those suckers down?

BalletNerd’s February Top Ten List

Advice for Adult Newbies from a Newbie – A few ideas I wish someone told me before my first class.

10. Buy ballet shoes. You will need them.  Socks don’t cut it.  The leather soles help strengthen your feet and the shoes provide support.  They aren’t that expensive and are easy to find on Amazon or Zappos.  If you don’t feel like going to a local dance store, order several sizes from a website with free return shipping.  Oh and buy pink.  Don’t buy black shoes unless you’re a guy.  Myself, I like leather split soles by Bloch.

9. Read and Research. Read as many ballet books and ballet websites as you can.  It helps immensely with understanding what is going on and for grasping combinations faster.  Understanding that a combination will most likely be performed en croix (front, side, back, side again) was huge for me.  Hahah – I had to have that explained by a book.  Not sure why, but I would have never picked up on that from observation alone.

8. Try wearing the leotard and tights. I know a lot of adult classes only require “clothes that allow for ease of movement”, but take the risk.  It immediately makes me feel more dancerish, even if I suck ass that day.  Capezio leotards are affordable and available on Amazon and almost any online discount dance store.  I like the super soft Capezio convertible tights, too.  Ballet pink is the easiest to deal with because black footed tights and pink shoes look a bit ridiculous.  If you’re dead set on black – go with footless or convertible rolled up.

7. Perform combinations without following others. Again, this was a concept I had to have explicitly explained by a website.  When the teacher marked out the combination, I was just paying attention to make sure I could physically do each step.  I wasn’t even trying to memorize how many times each step was performed because I figured I could just look at the others.  Push yourself to memorize the combination.  Standing at the end of the barre is also a great way to test yourself on this.  This also becomes much easier once you have memorized the common steps.

6. A little legwarmer goes a long way. You might want to hold off on the legwarmers until after the first couple classes.  I love how they look but won’t wear them yet.  Don’t want to over do it and look like I’m trying too hard, at least not the first couple classes anyway.

5. Work on stretching and flexibility. It gives you something to do to keep from being all weird and fidgety on the first day while waiting for the entire class to show up.  Plus even if you are not great at dancing, you can show off some amazing flexibility.  My goal is to be the 2nd in my class to get down in a split.  (Yeah 2nd? I know what you’re thinking why not 1st, but I’m trying to be realistic – see #3).

4. 2x a week minimum. Take class at least twice a week, even if that means going to different studios/schools.  You’ll progress much faster.

3. Realistic goals. You’re not going to go from zero ballet training to amazing arabesques by the third class.  Be happy with your baby steps.  It is so inspiring to hear of other adult beginners and their progress.

2. Show up and keep showing up. This is really a tie for #1.  Even if you stink one week, keep coming back.

1. Number 1 and most important.  For 90% of class – THE OTHER STUDENTS ARE NOT REALLY WATCHING YOU !!! Don’t be too self conscious.  Everyone else is too busy watching their own bumbling newbie selves.  Only the teacher is paying attention to the class as a whole.  At first I did not believe this one – but after a few classes you realize it’s true.

Curiouser and Curiouser

Lately, I feel like Alice in Wonderland.  What appears true in every day life is usually the opposite in BalletNerd’s beginner world.  Let’s look at a few examples:

Normal Every Day Existence Ballet Beginner World
Fairly young at 29.  Even called a young pup at work the other day. Old – Not even older. Just old. I am more than double the age of some of my classmates.
Compared to most co-workers and friends I’m pretty skinny. Chunk from the Goonies.  I expect to be called upon to perform the truffle shuffle instead of the standard barre at any time in class.
Average height – Ok I will admit even in real life I’m considered tall, but I’ve been surrounded by so many other tall friends and relatives that I no longer notice. Gulliver meets the Lilliputians – why is everyone so short??
Stronger, flexible, agile Weak, inflexible, clumsy clodhopper

Wonder how this will change over time???

Shrek in a leotard

There are three beginner classes offered at my current school.  I am enrolled in Fundamentals 0-2 years, which my husband refers to as “Baby” class.  It is great for ballet dunces except when it is combined with the more advanced Open Class. This has occurred twice in only four classes this term due to teacher illnesses.  Nothing exacerbates my ballet horribleness than having class with a bunch of high school kids who have reached the level of performing pointe solos.  There are also a few 50 year-old women in the Open class that put me to shame.  It is an interesting mix.  I just wish I could keep up with them instead of getting lost after the second combination at the barre and lumbering around like an ogre during center.

After my last class on Saturday (class #4), I decided I need additional classes if I ever want to move out of my “Baby” class and into the Lower Beginner class.  Now I’m not saying that I won’t continue with my “Baby” class, but by Fall I would also like to enroll in both “Baby” and the Lower Beginner course and – most importantly – be able to keep up with the class.  Easier said than done.