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So, You Want to Learn to Dance? - but....uh...I'm an adult....


Anjuli_Bai
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As Sept. approaches and dance schools begin to open, it may occur to some to take a chancee and fulfill a dream and sign up for an adult ballet class.

 

And, then the hesitation starts -

 

....what if -

 

......maybe I shouldn't - but, then, if not now when....

 

.......I wish I could just ask some questions of someone without any embarrassment - or pressure.....

 

Well, you can!

 

Each month I shall post in a link to a series of questions that often occur to the adult ballet student who has always wanted - or suddenly now wants to - sign up for an adult ballet class.

 

This series first appeared on the original Ballel.co forum and proved to be quite popular even attracting the notice of the BBC.

 

So, I enourage you to click on the link below - but then, come back here and post in any comments, questions, that might have occurred to you.

 

 

http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_03/jun03/ab_doing_dance_1.htm

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Fantastic article Anjuli! I was in a similar position two years ago and here are a couple of things I would add.

 

If you're a guy, don't be worried if you are the only man in class. Who cares?! And don't be worried if you're getting a lot of attention from the teacher - the fact you're 'different' to the rest of the class can sometimes make you stand out to teachers. I've heard from some female dancers who get really annoyed at guys for this phenomenon, but there is nothing we can do about it so embrace it! I realise that I'm lucky in getting that little bit of extra attention so try not to waste it and make the most of it. I try to ensure this by writing my corrections in a 'dance journal' (i.e. notebook) straight after class as well as any imagery or exercises I found particularly useful (for example, an image about water running down my arms helps me get a nice second position).

 

For guy's attire, standard uniform is black tights (with a dance belt! There is no excuses here, it protects you as well as stopping you being indecent!) and a white top (as an adult you generally don't need to worry about wearing a leotard). Black shoes are standard (though some schools may want you to use white ones) and guys pretty much always cross the two elastics when sewing them (compared to some girls who just have one strap of elastic going across the top of their foot). I don't know if there's a reason for that or not, but it seems traditional. And if the attire is a bit intimidating I'd recommend checking out the free e-book on BalletForMen: http://www.balletformen.com/free-e-book/ (I'd also recommend buying the physical copy from Amazon - it's the same as the ebook but you'll be supporting the website).

 

Hope that helps if there are any guys out there wanting to start ballet!

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Fantastic article Anjuli! I was in a similar position two years ago and here are a couple of things I would add.

 

If you're a guy, don't be worried if you are the only man in class. Who cares?! And don't be worried if you're getting a lot of attention from the teacher - the fact you're 'different' to the rest of the class can sometimes make you stand out to teachers. I've heard from some female dancers who get really annoyed at guys for this phenomenon, but there is nothing we can do about it so embrace it! I realise that I'm lucky in getting that little bit of extra attention so try not to waste it and make the most of it. I try to ensure this by writing my corrections in a 'dance journal' (i.e. notebook) straight after class as well as any imagery or exercises I found particularly useful (for example, an image about water running down my arms helps me get a nice second position).

 

For guy's attire, standard uniform is black tights (with a dance belt! There is no excuses here, it protects you as well as stopping you being indecent!) and a white top (as an adult you generally don't need to worry about wearing a leotard). Black shoes are standard (though some schools may want you to use white ones) and guys pretty much always cross the two elastics when sewing them (compared to some girls who just have one strap of elastic going across the top of their foot). I don't know if there's a reason for that or not, but it seems traditional. And if the attire is a bit intimidating I'd recommend checking out the free e-book on BalletForMen: http://www.balletfor...om/free-e-book/ (I'd also recommend buying the physical copy from Amazon - it's the same as the ebook but you'll be supporting the website).

 

Hope that helps if there are any guys out there wanting to start ballet!

 

Thank you, DavidW - for the information and glad you enjoyed the article.

 

There is a "guy" article in the series - coming up. Altogether there are about fifteen articles. But- maybe I should move the "guy" article up so you would know you are included!

 

Once again - thank you.

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The 4th article in the series.....
(this originally appeared on the Ballet.co Board - but the link no longer works (for me) <--- Edit - see note at bottom


Equipment - More.....


I encourage you to click on the link below - but then, come back here and post in any comments, questions, that might have occurred to you.

http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_03/nov03/ab_doing_dance_4.htm

 

 

Edit: Page changed to give link to original Ballet.co article. Anjuli_Bai text as per first post added.

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The Way to the Teacher’s Heart

I encourage you to click on the link below - but then, come back here and post in any comments, questions, that might have occurred to you.

http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_03/nov03/ab_doing_dance_5.htm

 

 

Edit: Page changed to give link to original Ballet.co article. Anjuli_Bai text as per first post added.

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Dear Anjuli

As this thread appears to have dried up a bit, I’m going to play devils advocate with the following responses:

 

Firstly the relationship seems to be between a mature teacher as the font of all knowledge and a child student. Which in the context of the thread (“BUT I’M AN ADULT”) is not really appropriate.

 

Para 1 on the surface makes a lot of sense and generally I would agree with it, however I would also regard it as a bit simplistic. “If it’s an “ADULT” class you are attending, the teacher may appreciate help in setting up the class before hand, like moving portable barre’s into position or chairs representing the barre etc. If it’s a professional studio with fixed barre’s then none of this will be necessary.

 

Equally at the end of class, help with putting things away is always appreciated by the teacher. I mention this as not only do I do this, but it also allows me to obtain additional coaching one to one coaching for an extra 10 to 15 minutes when class has finished. I know this is not always the case, especially if the teacher is required in another class immediately afterwards. But adult classes are generally take place in the evening and there is a good chance that no class follows them, in which case the teacher and room may be available for a short period.

 

Para 2, the art of questioning:

This is not just about ballet, this is general in life as a whole. No one like a smart arse to humiliate them in public. This is something I have applied in my working life, I have attended many professional conferences and I am usually an active front row questioner, I remember one occasion in particular, this presenter had actually done some consultancy work for me in my company, we had similar levels of knowledge. We chatted before his presentation to about 500 in the audience; I know he was nervous of me in the front row. After his presentation he invited questions, none were forth coming. I raise four in turn, but nothing that was in conflict with what had been said, but was loosely associated with that subject (yes I already knew the answers) but it gave him the opportunity to present his explanation and demonstrate his knowledge. He went away like a dog with two tails, we were both winners.

 

The same applies in class, and asking for help is a sure fire way of getting into the heart of your teacher.

 

One point which is not mentioned at all, but I guess is implied (the teacher is a font of all knowledge), the more read you become on the subject, the more cracks you may detect in your teachers knowledge, after all they are only human and cannot be familiar with every facet of ballet. From that perspective, if a teacher said “I am not sure but I will research it and give you the answer next week”, for me, that teacher has a lot of credibility and I’m likely to trust their judgement. But for one I catch out telling me something that is blatantly wrong or mis-interpreted, I would never trust again.

 

Para 3 Four Letter Words

Again the context for adults seems inappropriate from the point of view there may be a health and safety implication, for example a senior adult may have limited flexibility to perform a particular movement, and no matter how hard she tries its never going to happen for her. One of my teachers will not teach pirouettes as the majority of her class are senior adults and are likely to suffer from dizziness, which may result in a fall and broken bones. That makes perfect sense don’t you think?

 

Whilst I do agree in principle with what you have said about four letter words, I personally never use cant and if I’m not able to do something properly in class, I will take it away to my studio to overcome the difficulty, but then I have an appetite for difficult problems, that’s in my mindset.

 

Many adult ballet students just come to class for social interaction and a bit of keep fit, especially as many only did ballet as a small child and only copied teacher without fully understanding the terms.

 

Para 4

If access to the teacher is difficult and especially if it’s not germane with what is currently being taught, check out if the teacher is comfortable with accepting emails, mine are and it give them time to think too.

 

Para 5 Teacher Helping others, shall I mention this.

This para makes some good points and especially as I have discussed this topic in detail with one of my teachers. As she teaches mainly senior adults, she is careful about the feedback she gives them and it tends to be done sparingly and very politely, as she doesn’t want to upset anyone.

 

For me, I actively seek feedback and consequently I get it, she even makes the comment sometimes even though I have done nothing wrong, that I was thinking about it, she’s great, I think she’s telepathic too ha ha ha. I is really important that as an adult you make your teacher aware of the feedback you desire.

 

Last Para

Above all do let your teacher know that you value them, that is really really important

For me this ceases to be a teacher student relationship as portrayed in the preceding post, it’s a partnership to develop my ballet performance; It requires focused dedication from myself and my teacher to achieve the end goal efficiently.

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Anjuli - I don't know much about ballet as it is my son who dances but every time I read one of your posts I think - what a beautiful turn of phrase you have. All your words seem wisely chosen and you say just the right amount. Not too long and not too brief. In fact, I wonder whether you are an author as well as a ballet dancer - you should write a book, (if you haven't already!)

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Anjuli - I don't know much about ballet as it is my son who dances but every time I read one of your posts I think - what a beautiful turn of phrase you have. All your words seem wisely chosen and you say just the right amount. Not too long and not too brief. In fact, I wonder whether you are an author as well as a ballet dancer - you should write a book, (if you haven't already!)

 

How very kind of you, Suzyszoo, to take the time to tell me that. It is much appreciated. I have written a book - not about dance - and it has been published (not self-published) and serialized online by an editor/publisher. This was a number of years ago, the server was since changed serveral times by the editor/publisher and so I believe the links no longer work.

 

Words have always intrigued me - it started when as a 9 yr old I read Ivanhoe. I fell in love (with a few exceptions) with British authors.

 

Again, my thanks.

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The Teacher's Point of View

I encourage you to click on the link below - but then, come back here and post in any comments, questions, that might have occurred to you.

http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_04/apr04/ab_doing_dance_6.htm


Edit: Page changed to give link to original Ballet.co article. Anjuli_Bai text as per first post added.

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Guarding the Temple
 

I encourage you to click on the link below - but then, come back here and post in any comments, questions, that might have occurred to you.

http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_04/may04/ab_doing_dance_7.htm

 

 

Edit: Page changed to give link to original Ballet.co article. Anjuli_Bai text as per first post added.

Edited by Bruce
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Assessing Your Progress
 

I encourage you to click on the link below - but then, come back here and post in any comments, questions, that might have occurred to you.

http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_04/jul04/ab_doing_dance_8.htm


Edit: Page changed to give link to original Ballet.co article. Anjuli_Bai text as per first post added.

Edited by Bruce
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Assessing the Physical Space

I encourage you to click on the link below - but then, come back here and post in any comments, questions, that might have occurred to you.

http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_04/sep04/ab_doing_dance_9.htm


Edit: Page changed to give link to original Ballet.co article. Anjuli_Bai text as per first post added.

Edited by Bruce
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Assessing the Music for Ballet Class

 

I encourage you to click on the link below - but then, come back here and post in any comments, questions, that might have occurred to you.

http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_05/jan05/ab_doing_dance_10.htm


Edit: Page changed to give link to original Ballet.co article. Anjuli_Bai text as per first post added.

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Really like the discussion about music- I am very fortunate to have accomplished pianists for most of my classes!   It is a true skill and part o my teacher training involved many hours of how to train a pianist, sadly I believe that this is a skill that's being lost as teachers rely more and more on recorded music.

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Just in case it's missed, there's an article in today's Links that should fit very well here:

 

http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/called-to-the-barre.20980789

 

And a pianist story.  My wife was examining in the London area some years back and was bowled over by the young pianist still at College playing for the classes that day.  She asked her name - Joanna McGregor ....... wonder what became of her?!

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Very lovely article, Ian.   I especially liked this:

 

"I love the etiquette of a ballet class, the routine and discipline. There's a comfort to knowing exactly what will happen next, to carrying out – or trying to carry out – variations of movements that have been performed by others for centuries. There is patience instilled in repeating those movements endlessly, then the joy of their purpose emerging in the choreography of a dance. It's ritual when all around is chaos."

 

It brought back to mind back in 1979 when so many people were killed in the PSA air collision over my city - only a couple of miles from my  house - my young son at school saw the bodies falling from the plane....

 

There were many PSA stewardesses who were either in the morning ballet class I took or in the later ballet class I taught.  In both cases everyone waited with heartstopping breath to see who would walk into class and who would not.

 

And through that horror, there was the somehow comforting structure...first pliés, then tendues, .......it gave us something to emotionally hold on to and something physically to do.  And, the conform of continuance...connection with the past and a glimmer of hope of getting through that terrible day.

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Thank you, Fiz.   I do write - have written a book as i described in another thread.  I just don't have what it takes to enter the lists of Ashby - otherwise known as the Byzantine world of publishing. 

 

But a lot of my articles (non-ballet) is online - but that is not the subject of this forum.

 

However - you did start my morning off with a happy inner smile.:)

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You mentioned that playing an instrument for ballet class is an art form - really?

 

Indeed, really.  Once you have had a class accompanied by a true artist that specializes in playing for dance, it is an experience you will not soon forget.  A musician with that kind of skill knows intuitively what will work with the exercise that the teacher has set.  And, he also knows how the students will respond.  I was once lucky enough to take a number of classes for which a pianist played who was a nationally known master of the art. He could make the music conform to the needs of each student as that dancer came down the diagonal.  It was a wondrous experience.  He made the music fit each dancer like a glove.

 

Wow.  That sounds marvellous.  We're blessed with a really good pianist - picks suitable music out of thin air, even composes some of her own, as we occasionally find out - but I'm not sure even she would do that.

 

Really like the discussion about music- I am very fortunate to have accomplished pianists for most of my classes!   It is a true skill and part o my teacher training involved many hours of how to train a pianist, sadly I believe that this is a skill that's being lost as teachers rely more and more on recorded music.

 

I didn't realise the teacher trained the pianist, although I've always wondered how our pianist got to the level she's at, because being a ballet pianist is such specialist work.  I remember that when I was a teenager my Mum on a few occasions played the piano for girls doing their Brownie/Guide dance badges, but the gulf between that and what a professional dance pianist does is huge.  It's one thing to play for rehearsals, when you know precisely what music you should be playing, but playing for class is really something of an artform, requiring the ability to extemporise.  And also to pick music suitable for the occasion: I remember watching ENB class at the Coliseum some years ago, just before the dancers went on their extended summer (I presume) break - the pianist started playing "We're all going on a summer holiday", to the delight of the dancers!

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