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Taking the leap....starting ballet again as a male!


Plie22
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Hi everyone,

 

 

My first post here, so my apologies if it's in the wrong section!  :ph34r:

 

 

I've recently finished university, entered the big wide world of work and would absolutely love to start ballet again; I went to a high school which offered RAD ballet and last took lessons around 5 years ago at grade 5.

 

Whilst in University, I tried a few different classes in the town I was living- I tried a grade 6 class which was great, but being the only boy with girls a few years younger was a little awkward despite the teacher making me feel very welcome. I also tried an adult class which was a little too advanced, the teacher really belittled me and made me feel to be an inconvenience but the other students in the class really accepted my presence which was nice.

 

Understandably I'm finding it a little daunting to start dancing properly again, but I feel that its almost a "now or never" scenario, as otherwise I'll continue to put it off and definitely regret it. I just feel that breaking past the taboo of males doing ballet is sometimes quite difficult when actually trying to find a suitable class.

 

I've just relocated to Somerset/Wiltshire area, so would really appreciate it if somebody could point me in the right direction towards finding a good school or teacher that would be able to accommodate me!

 

Plie_22  :lol:

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Hello Plie22 and welcome to the Forum!

 

I see from your post that you have moved to the South West.  The Bristol Russian Ballet School has adult classes.  Here is a link to their website:

 

http://www.bristolrussianballetschool.com/adult_ballet/

 

I've added a tag to your thread "male ballet".  If you search on that thread you may find some helpful tips from other members.

 

 

These are more general threads too:

 

http://www.balletcoforum.com/index.php?/topic/9871-adult-ballet-students-uk-cities-good-for-dance/?hl=%2Bbristol+%2Brussian+%2Bballet+%2Bschool#entry150390

 

http://www.balletcoforum.com/index.php?/topic/11185-ballet-at-university/?hl=%2Bbristol+%2Brussian+%2Bballet+%2Bschool#entry150809

 

http://www.balletcoforum.com/index.php?/topic/5227-adult-ballet-in-bristol/?hl=%2Bbristol+%2Brussian+%2Bballet+%2Bschool#entry65590

 

 

Good luck and do let us know how you get on!

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Welcome from me too, Plie22. I must admit, when I read your thread title I did for a moment wonder whether this was for a very specific minority interest, and thought "My goodness, that would be really difficult to do", but clearly I misunderstood :). We do have some adult male dancers on this forum, as well as some people in your area, so I hope between them they'll be able to give you some advice. There used to be a few males in my adult ballet classes in central London, but of course that's no use to you.

 

If you'd like to edit the title of your post, just drop one of the Moderators a line :)

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Hi Plie22

 

I just wanted to say well done to you for wanting to get back into ballet and please don't let your past experience of a rude and unprofessional teacher and any of the other difficulties you've faced put you off! It's clear from your post that you're very keen on doing ballet so just persevere until you find a class that suits you. I'm in Scotland so can't help you with any knowledge of classes in Somerset or Wiltshire. My son only started doing ballet for the first time 2 years ago when he was 19 (he's now nearly 21 and in 3rd year at uni) - he is an acting student and went along to some dance workshops run by Matthew Bourne's company in Glasgow and then he subsequently auditioned and was chosen as one of the performers for Lord of the Flies. This was an incredibly positive experience for him because he got to take company class and perform with an all-male dance company and since then he has regularly taken ballet class and he loves it. Young men who enjoy ballet may be few and far between but they exist so I hope you find a class to suit you and that you can go to with your head held high ready to learn. Enjoy!

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In the Dance groups I've belonged to in London there have always been two or three male dancers.

 

There are a couple of really keen ones I know who have now got to a very good standard from starting as adults. It may have taken a few years.....and it is still harder for adult males than females.... But their perseverance has paid off and are now tackling quite complex choreography.

I hope you find a good class locally and if you can occasionally get up to London you will find quite a few places where you can join classes and find you won't be the only male!!

Also in London there are workshops often held at week ends which once you've got going again you might like to have a go at to get further experience.

Good luck and don't be put off by one teacher ......many teachers are only too pleased to have a male in the class

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Hello Plie22 and welcome to the forum.  One of my DDs friends is a male dancer from Bath and only a couple of years younger than you at a guess. If in Bath,  He suggests you try La Scala Dance Studios and in particular classes run by a company called 34 who started with contemporary classes but now offer ballet as well.  I believe that is where he goes when he is home.

 

The only places I myself know to try are 344 Dance School in Bristol and Russian Ballet School in Bristol.  No personal experience of any of these.  Good luck in your search

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Welcome aboard, from an adult male beginner twenty years older than you. I'm afraid I'm in Dublin so I can't help with class recommendations.

 

I can dump some unsolicited old guy advice in the thread though: you're probably going to have to put up with awkwardness.

 

If you're going to be serious and unless you're dancing regularly in one of the major urban centres - and whether you can do that or not depends on your commitments and transport options - you're probably going to end up needing a supportive teacher and pieceing together a class schedule  from adult classes and kids classes.

 

I'm planning to do grade I ISTD before the summer (I'm 8 years old, obviously!) and I have a dodgy ankle: my dance  schedule this week was a demi-pointe/strengthening/very pre-pointe type class on Tuesday evening with a class of 8-12 year olds, a few of the adult ladies, and including my 7 year old son, an adult curriculum class the same evening after I dropped my son home from that class, a Wednesday Grade 2 RAD class with a handful of 8-12 year olds (including my son and wife), a bit of the adult Intermediate Foundation class after I dropped son home again and an adult beginners class that evening. The teacher is local, very supportive and of the "everyone can and should dance" mindset but she only has two adult classes of a level suitable for me. The kids get used to it quickly enough. 

 

I got used to being outclassed by eight year olds when I was learning to ride horses fifteen years ago but it's not something we're trained to do as adults. At least you only have to worry about being outclassed by 14 year olds. :-) 

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Thank you for the warm welcome everyone and for so many helpful replies; it's great to receive advice from a few different perspectives. 

 

Hello Plie22 and welcome to the forum.  One of my DDs friends is a male dancer from Bath and only a couple of years younger than you at a guess. If in Bath,  He suggests you try La Scala Dance Studios and in particular classes run by a company called 34 who started with contemporary classes but now offer ballet as well.  I believe that is where he goes when he is home.

 

The only places I myself know to try are 344 Dance School in Bristol and Russian Ballet School in Bristol.  No personal experience of any of these.  Good luck in your search

 

I'm based just outside of Bath,so will definitely do some digging and try and find out more about "34"; I've done a quick google and couldn't find much, so maybe if you could PM me with some more information that would be fantastic!

 

 

 

Welcome aboard, from an adult male beginner twenty years older than you. I'm afraid I'm in Dublin so I can't help with class recommendations.

 

I can dump some unsolicited old guy advice in the thread though: you're probably going to have to put up with awkwardness.

 

If you're going to be serious and unless you're dancing regularly in one of the major urban centres - and whether you can do that or not depends on your commitments and transport options - you're probably going to end up needing a supportive teacher and pieceing together a class schedule  from adult classes and kids classes.

 

I'm planning to do grade I ISTD before the summer (I'm 8 years old, obviously!) and I have a dodgy ankle: my dance  schedule this week was a demi-pointe/strengthening/very pre-pointe type class on Tuesday evening with a class of 8-12 year olds, a few of the adult ladies, and including my 7 year old son, an adult curriculum class the same evening after I dropped my son home from that class, a Wednesday Grade 2 RAD class with a handful of 8-12 year olds (including my son and wife), a bit of the adult Intermediate Foundation class after I dropped son home again and an adult beginners class that evening. The teacher is local, very supportive and of the "everyone can and should dance" mindset but she only has two adult classes of a level suitable for me. The kids get used to it quickly enough. 

 

I got used to being outclassed by eight year olds when I was learning to ride horses fifteen years ago but it's not something we're trained to do as adults. At least you only have to worry about being outclassed by 14 year olds. :-) 

 

I really appreciate your post; I would definitely be interested in following a similar curriculum as yourself; alas, its just trying to find the correct teacher and class so hopefully I find something too. I can see where you're coming from regarding the awkwardness; I'm certain that after the first few lessons, I'll become part of the furniture and start to feel more comfortable!

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You may end up with awkwardness just joining an hithero all-female class. I rather suspect there's at least one lady in our classes less than overjoyed at my appearance in class. I (and the teacher) regard that as her problem, not mine.

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I think being outclassed by 10, 14 , 16, and even 26 year olds is par for the course in adult amateur ballet if you are over 30 at all!! This is whether you are a male or female!!

 

The only way you can survive is to keep your eye on your own development and how you are improving against yourself ....not against others in the class ....who are nearly always going to have more flexibility and bounce by their sheer youth!!

Keep your own goals in mind and enjoy the ride as there will be ups and downs!!

 

There does seem to be some similarity with ski ing in fact.

There's that time you go down the slope all beautifully rhythmic ski ing and without falling over and you think great I'm getting good at this. However the next time you go down the slope you fall over all the time and can't find the rhythm at all!!

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I also googled "34" and couldn't find anything.  I'm now wondering if his phone did an autocorrect from '3rd' as 3rd stage is a contemporary company with classes in Bath and his message did say they started with just contemporary but now offer ballet as well.   I'm afraid it will be difficult to contact DD's friend again any time soon as he is now onboard a ship sailing goodness knows where.  But La Scala Dance Studios is where he suggests and I know there are other adult ballet classes held at that venue too so that might be the best place to start.

 

In he message from Janet above she gives some useful threads for you to look at and in the top one of the group of 3 there are links for some classes held at La Scala.

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You may end up with awkwardness just joining an hithero all-female class. I rather suspect there's at least one lady in our classes less than overjoyed at my appearance in class. I (and the teacher) regard that as her problem, not mine.

 

I guess that depends on where you dance. When I started 22 years ago, I was the only chap in the class, and it was like that for the first decade. Now there are usually two or three of us. It was never a problem being the only chap there. I used to do an RAD 6 class with a group of teenage girls (14ish I think) and one 22 year old young woman. The girls where understandably wary at first but they quickly realised that I was only there to dance and they used to like follow me across the floor, as I knew the syllabus very well.

 

I think being outclassed by 10, 14 , 16, and even 26 year olds is par for the course in adult amateur ballet if you are over 30 at all!! This is whether you are a male or female!!

 

I might be outclassed physically (they do the steps better than me) but I can remember the sequences better than most of the class. After I had been dancing for a couple of years, I was a few minutes late for class, which is extremely unusual for me. I took a place at the back, and the ladies said "We've saved you your spot at the front". They gain liked me there so they could follow me. To this day, I always stand at the front right. I'be been standing there for 20 years. There is alwatys plenty of room in the front of the studio - it gets a bit crowded at the back.

 

I really can't add any advice to of use to Plie22 except to dance and enjoy. Both Chika Temma and Yury Demakov, who run the Russian Ballet School used to dance with the Swansea Ballet Russe (sadly now gone). I used to go and see them quite often and I spoke to Chika a number of times. She was always gorgeous to watch and I think she would be a great teacher.

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I guess that depends on where you dance. 

 

Absolutely: it's one out of 20 or so, in a class that had never had a guy and there are other issues with the lady … 

 

Most of the ladies seem delighted to have a guy in the class. 

 

 

I might be outclassed physically (they do the steps better than me) but I can remember the sequences better than most of the class.

 

I was thinking of the beginning stages - I don't think most adults have been trained very well to be beginners, especially at things that are often taught to kids.   I'd hope to be able to hold my own against eight year olds within only a couple of years!

 

I think being outclassed by 10, 14 , 16, and even 26 year olds is par for the course in adult amateur ballet if you are over 30 at all!! This is whether you are a male or female!!

 

 

And by 60 year olds.

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FWIW there were blokes in the most recent 3rd Stage Dance class I attended, which is in Brizzle city centre, and everybody involved was just fine with it. People who genuinely care about dancing are likely to be far too busy trying to remember what they're meant to be doing to spend any time thinking about other peoples' bodies or genders.

 

Maybe start with attending a couple of drop-in classes or trial classes and see how you find them. In my experience, more cosmopolitan locations with more technical classes are more likely to have chaps in the room. I've never met a bloke yet in a small-town ballet class, although there's bound to be a first time, but mostly there tend to be lots of women with variable levels of interest in ballet. There are also ballet classes at Bath Uni, which, being studenty and a bit more serious, might well be a more mixed bunch than you'd get in some places. And If you feel like a bit of positive reinforcement you could indeed try popping into London on a couple of occasions and doing some ENB classes (there are some drop-in evening classes...), or even taking a couple of classes at somewhere like Pineapple: there generally tend to be a couple of blokes in these classes, often including the teacher. I second/third/tenth the suggestion of London ballet weekends - there's a fair amount of good stuff going on and it's a tiny, tiny world. Once you attend a couple, you'll be meeting people at the barre you recognise from last time :)

 

And, obviously and importantly, if you find any good classes in Bath/Bris/Somerset, especially anything with classes longer than one hour or which treats adult ballet as anything more than 'enjoyable exercise', offers any repertoire or, unimaginably, exams, please get right back on this board and put up the bunhead-signal. I'm leaving employment in London for Bristol soon, meaning I may not be able to continue ENB classes, and I'm already pining for all the wonderful ballet opportunities of the City... can't find anyone in the entire Bath/Bristol area who would contemplate RAD inter foundation for adults and seriously considering commuting to Clapham just for that :(

 

If one more dance teacher tells me that ballet for adults is solely good for keeping fit, I shall probably snap entirely and sharpen my fountain-pen to write an angry letter to the authorities certifying these schools: 'Dear RAD, You should teach dance teachers to care about adult learners of ballet, because as it stands we seem to care about learning your discipline distinctly more than most teachers think we should. Yours sincerely, signed Disgusted of Bath And Wells.' :P

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