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York UK beginner

Adult 'crash course' classes or even one-to-ones?

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Hello, a very late starter here, not even an adult 'returner', and about to turn 48, but I am coming at this from having spent many years as a keen adult recreational ice dancer albeit that was more ballroom-on-ice I suppose ... and the secret about ice skating is you just kinda stand there half the time whilst the ice moves underneath you, but don't tell anyone.

 

Have attended four different adult classes - albeit sadly very briefly for one reason or another, mostly just either life getting in the way or the class being above my beginner level - in Peterborough/Cambridge/York but though one or two of those classes I would be half-interested in returning to, I feel what I'm truly looking for has yet to be found despite hours if not even months trawling the internet.

 

It seems to me classes all follow the same format of exercises at the barre, then a move to the centre of the floor where little routines are done, and then off you all go home till the following week.  The barre exercises I quite like, but the floor elements are just plain depressingly frustrating because they're so intricate and fast like a magician's slight of hand so, unless you somehow just instictively already know how to do it all, you're just left feeling like you're wasting your time and there's no point carrying on.  Like you're left behind, it all started without you and nobody is going to tell you where you need go to learn what you need as a prerequisite for the class you're currently in.

 

What I'm still hoping to find, to the point that it's elusiveness is making it an obsession to prove it must must surely be out there somewhere (and on top of that be within a 30 minute drive on a Monday or Wednesday daytime ...!!) is a class where there is some kind of structured tuition/course/programme to really focus on the basics and where all the centre floor routines are completely off the menu for some months or even a year or two until all the names and mechanics and the stretches and the stamina and everything of the 'ingredients' are second nature and done to a reasonable standard and you THEN have something to build up from.

 

Any ideas please?

 

In the unlikely event somone knows of something in the York / Leeds / Harrogate areas so much the better!

 

Are there male ballet teachers, out of interest?  Not fussed either way, but so much is of course women orientated it might be handy to know things from a male dancer's perspective.

 

 

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10 minutes ago, York UK beginner said:

It seems to me classes all follow the same format of exercises at the barre, then a move to the centre of the floor where little routines are done, and then off you all go home till the following week. 

 

Hello York UK beginner and welcome!  Your paragraph above really struck me because this is (or should be!) the format of *every* ballet class for anyone over the age of about 8, whether they be absolute beginners or professional dancers in a Ballet company.  ☺️ So if that is not to your liking, you’ve probably picked the wrong art form! 

 

The barre is a warm up; preparation for centre work, which in itself follows a pattern of port de bras, adage, pirouettes/turns, petit allegro, grand allegro.  You can see the structure of a class by watching the Royal Ballet “in class” videos by the Royal Opera House on Youtube.  

 

Even one to one tuition should follow this structure for adults.  It sounds to me as if you need a class specifically for Adult absolute beginners with no previous experience of ballet.  These will work on the basic building blocks of turnout, pointing the feet, posture, arm positions etc.  There will probably be some centre work even at this level, just to get you used to working without the barre, but hopefully the work will be explained and demonstrated thoroughly so nobody feels left behind.  

 

Daytime classes for adults who are absolute beginners (by good, qualified teachers) outside London are probably going to be hard to find but if you google “Adult beginner ballet classes” it might be a starting point.  Hopefully one of our Adult dancers might know of some.

 

Good luck! 

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Hello York UK Beginner and welcome to the Forum.

 

Northern Ballet offer adult ballet classes at their HQ in Leeds:

 

https://northernballet.com/academy/training-programmes/open-classes/adult-courses

 

We have a lot of adult dancers who post here and if you click on the tags at the top of your thread they will provide lots of topics for you to peruse.

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Are you only looking for classes in Yorkshire now? Northern ballet classes are mentioned quite a bit here, have you tried them? 
it’s difficult as an adult and I find that often you have to push through that feeling, continue attending regularly and eventually things begin to slot into place! 

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3 minutes ago, Peony said:

Are you only looking for classes in Yorkshire now? Northern ballet classes are mentioned quite a bit here, have you tried them?

Yes.

Looked, albeit only online, at NB and as I recall session times + Leeds parking hassles & costs meant I continued my increasingly aimless internet searching!

Have emailed 'Balletic', 'Yorkshire Ballet Institute' and also something called 'Adult Ballet Leeds' as three of my current optmistic enquiries.

 

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Sorry I’m not familiar with classes in that area but I know there are some adult dancers on here who are. Adult beginners classes are always tricky as you will get more advanced dancers attending and I do think that can be to the detriment of the true beginners. I can appreciate why it happens as it’s usually a case of finding a class that fits in terms of scheduling! You may want to consider private tuition, although it can be a pretty intense experience and I’d look for someone with experience of teaching adults as it is rather different to teaching children. Good luck in your search! Ballet is a slow climb but great fun on the journey

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It should perhaps be pointed out that certain teachers do do a rather longer barre session, and hence less centre work, than others (and conversely), though.

 

Welcome to the forum, York UK Beginner.

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2 hours ago, York UK beginner said:

The barre exercises I quite like, but the floor elements are just plain depressingly frustrating because they're so intricate and fast like a magician's slight of hand so, unless you somehow just instictively already know how to do it all, you're just left feeling like you're wasting your time and there's no point carrying on.  Like you're left behind, it all started without you and nobody is going to tell you where you need go to learn what you need as a prerequisite for the class you're currently in.

 

This is REALLY normal. All dancers feel like this about the centre sometimes whatever level they're in. It always goes faster than the barre, and if you're a beginner just starting, or an improver stepping up to a higher level, or intermediate level dancer, doing an advanced class, the centre often seems faster and more confusing than the barre. Because it usually is - the barre is preparation for the centre. The centre is where we get to dance, and to move.

 

I think it's extra hard if you only go once a week, or do classes in different studios with different teachers. My regular teacher tends to do the same combinations (with maybe slight variations) for about 6 weeks or so, so beginners can get the patterns & shapes into their bodies. A lot of centre practice is very similar to the barre, but without the barre - eg tendus, grande battements, preparation for pirouteets. But we need to be in the centre to move, and to jump. 

 

It sounds as though what you need is a regular fairly repetitive sort of class - a bit like a syllabus class - so you can get the basics. Generally, ballet is taught in a group, as most dancers work as part of groups in performances. And class is ultimately training for performing. 

 

Northern Ballet classes would be my pick - I attended a Beginners one in the evening in Leeds when I was in Leeds for work - it was taken by the Northern Ballet ballet master, and it was great - he managed to keep people like me happy with some technical directions (basic ballet is actually really hard if you're not a beginner!!) and explain the fundamentals of turn out etc to the absolute beginners - he had them all in one part of the studio, and really gave them good attention. (and Northern Ballet's Leeds studios are pretty easy from York by train or bus - former non-driving northerner speaking).

 

But with ice-skating experience, I'd have thought you're already a little bit on the way from being an absolute beginner - I have a cousin who was a junior champion, and she did ballet class a few times a week to help with the figure skating. 

 

Good luck - and welcome!

 

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I've been dancing ballet just over 1 year and I think everyone struggles with centre. It's the most challenging part and often where new content is introduced. There is usually a comforting routine to the barre even if it's hard to make the body do it. Centre is less predictable and harder. My teacher introduced the entrechat last weekend and we mostly sucked at getting the legs to cooperate.

 

That said in a proper beginner class they should be open to breaking the move down. My class has a fair amount of "which foot are we on and which way do we turn" and "are we doing stuff with the arms" type questions. You need I think a teacher who can teach and adapt to different learning styles. You need someone who works for you and that's harder to find. I am not a visual learner so need the step and body parts involved explained. So I look for teachers who will do that. 

 

I'd definitely suggest a couple of privates so you can go at your own speed. The other thing I found helpful was watching company class with BRB. Seeing the centre work done professionally helped me understand what it involved.

 

Ballet isn't easy. It's the hardest thing I do and some days I want to scream. That said I am completely addicted to it. it can take a few months to start getting the hang.

 

 

 

 

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In answer to the other question yes there are male teachers around. My class usually has a man. I've not noticed anything vastly different between him and the female teacher who covers when he's out. They are different because they're different people but the gender doesn't seem to affect their teaching. I learn loads from them both. 

Edited by Tango Dancer
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8 hours ago, Tango Dancer said:

it can take a few months to start getting the hang.

 

 

Indeed! One expert teacher of beginners I take class from in London (the marvellous Hannah Frost) always says at the start of each class to the complete beginners that it will feel weird for quite a few weeks, but to give it time.

 

And re male or female teachers: to be honest, at the beginner level, the sex of the teacher doesn't matter. Men and women learn the same steps in ballet - but because our bodies are biologically different, the same step danced by a man will look different when danced by a woman. Men generally (because of hormonal differences evident from puberty) have greater fast muscle strength, bigger lungs, and are taller and heavier; women generally have more flexibility, and a longer line. Women's hips, developing at puberty for potential pregnancy etc, are wider, so we tend not to turn in the way men do. But the principles of all the steps are the same - and the typical "men's steps" such as double tours or turns in second are taught to girls & women as well. 

 

There's a regular Men and Boy's class at Danceworks in London focussing on the big spectacular jumps men do, and how you prepare for & learn them, but I often see female dancers in there, getting extra tips on big jumps. 

Edited by Kate_N
Typos!
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22 hours ago, York UK beginner said:

Hello, a very late starter here, not even an adult 'returner', and about to turn 48, but I am coming at this from having spent many years as a keen adult recreational ice dancer albeit that was more ballroom-on-ice I suppose ... and the secret about ice skating is you just kinda stand there half the time whilst the ice moves underneath you, but don't tell anyone.

 

Have attended four different adult classes - albeit sadly very briefly for one reason or another, mostly just either life getting in the way or the class being above my beginner level - in Peterborough/Cambridge/York but though one or two of those classes I would be half-interested in returning to, I feel what I'm truly looking for has yet to be found despite hours if not even months trawling the internet.

 

It seems to me classes all follow the same format of exercises at the barre, then a move to the centre of the floor where little routines are done, and then off you all go home till the following week.  The barre exercises I quite like, but the floor elements are just plain depressingly frustrating because they're so intricate and fast like a magician's slight of hand so, unless you somehow just instictively already know how to do it all, you're just left feeling like you're wasting your time and there's no point carrying on.  Like you're left behind, it all started without you and nobody is going to tell you where you need go to learn what you need as a prerequisite for the class you're currently in.

 

What I'm still hoping to find, to the point that it's elusiveness is making it an obsession to prove it must must surely be out there somewhere (and on top of that be within a 30 minute drive on a Monday or Wednesday daytime ...!!) is a class where there is some kind of structured tuition/course/programme to really focus on the basics and where all the centre floor routines are completely off the menu for some months or even a year or two until all the names and mechanics and the stretches and the stamina and everything of the 'ingredients' are second nature and done to a reasonable standard and you THEN have something to build up from.

 

Any ideas please?

 

In the unlikely event somone knows of something in the York / Leeds / Harrogate areas so much the better!

 

Are there male ballet teachers, out of interest?  Not fussed either way, but so much is of course women orientated it might be handy to know things from a male dancer's perspective.

 

 

"It seems to me classes all follow the same format of exercises at the barre, then a move to the centre of the floor where little routines are done, and then off you all go home till the following week. " 

yes, this is what a ballet class consists of - class  is for learning  and centre  work is an integral part of class,  this is where you start to dance , 

as you progress then you can bring the 'dance' back to the barre ...  barre exercises are not  robotic drills  -  others have suggested setting  aside  some time to watch  some of the world ballet day  coverage of company classes and  when you do you'll notice that the barre  phase of class is still 'danced' ... 

take  a plie at the barre  for the absolute beginner it's about  turn out and weight placement - getting up and down without  falling over or  sticking your bum out  , for the not an absolute beginner its about fluidity  of that movement ,  for the improver to  Intermediate ( or above) dancer  it's all that plus  dancing the exercise , the  hands, the arms (arms and hands together  being  ' port de bras' )  the eyes / head , the neck plus   throwing in rises/ releves  , a turn to take the exercise  straight round to the other side ... 

centre exercises are teaching points ,  I feel Messers Dunning and Kruger may be at play here,  while some of the sports science  stuff may be a little lacking  

combined with some over analysis ,  which is  common in adult beginners  and  part of why teaching adults any thing is different  to teaching kids. 

centre exercises can  be like that - you need to take ownership of your own learning and ask those questions 

but those questions  repeat and re-occur  every time you  start  doing something new... 

it will take weeks , months or even years to master certain  steps or techniques

plenty of guys  who teach, and they  teach  both men and women  both 'male' and 'female'  technique ...  there aren't huge differences  in techniques a few little tweaks here and there  e.g what the  'english' styles  tend to call 'classical pose'  a masc presenting dancer  's legs with be slightly  different - (the working leg is straighter  and placed slightly differently to accomodate that) ...  there is nothing  that somewhere in the repetoire  isn't done by both masculine and feminine presenting dancers  -  although  if you take the purely classical  works  it may appear that there are some things which are guys only and  some things which are girls only ... 

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Two or three mentions of private lessons here, but I'm not really seeing any adverts or invitations for such in my Googling.  Fact is, it seems to me, most ballet classes are taught by people who slot it in as a kind of labour of love after work or childcare, in hired facilities which makes you wonder if they even break even so them doing all that for just one person seems unlikely to me.  So I don't know ... are private lessons best found by some kind of as yet undiscovered directory of such people??

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17 minutes ago, York UK beginner said:

Two or three mentions of private lessons here, but I'm not really seeing any adverts or invitations for such in my Googling.  Fact is, it seems to me, most ballet classes are taught by people who slot it in as a kind of labour of love after work or childcare, in hired facilities which makes you wonder if they even break even so them doing all that for just one person seems unlikely to me.  So I don't know ... are private lessons best found by some kind of as yet undiscovered directory of such people??

In my experience it's more that you find a good teacher via group classes and then arrange a private with them. Privates do cost more than group classes which is how they can afford to offer them. 

 

Privates can be expensive so I would want to see how they teach and ensure compatibility in a class first and then book. To take a non ballet example I've regularly been to tango workshops by one visiting  teacher from France. I liked his style so I had a wonderful private lesson with him last week. 

 

Unless it's Baryshnikov, I wouldn't take a private on spec. That said, if I did have one with Baryshnikov I'd probably be too embarrassed at my crapness and smitten with his lovely eyes to dance. 

 

Is there anyone you've been to a class with that you could see as teaching in a good way for you? If so maybe ask them what they charge?

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Teachers only rarely mention private lessons on their websites but in my experience most teachers will do them. They are by arrangement and often you have to approach them and ask if it's possible. It's tricky when the teachers use hired space as you have to coordinate when you are free/when they are free/when the space is free.

 

I think you're right about the labour of love aspect - I think few teachers are going to get rich. Generally the very popular classes (little kids ballet and adult non-ballet exercise classes) subsidise the others. I know my teacher is earning just £10 an hour in her private lessons as half of what she charges pays for the room.

 

Private lessons are great for really working with your particular needs. I know that for beginners that need is often to understand what on earth is going on! As others have said, everyone experiences that sense of being confused and left behind, not just when beginning but every time you move on to a new challenge. I would also recommend getting a bit of theoretical knowledge under your belt, either from videos or books, so that even when you can't do it you have a clearer idea of what it is you are trying to do!

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Sounds to me like you prefer a very structured learning style, and the "unstructuredness" of being asked to attempt complex combinations in the centre before you understand the constituent parts properly is scaring you off somewhat. It's a shame you're not based in London or the South East as I know of several teachers down here who do offer Absolute Beginners classes of the exact type you are looking for. (You do need to be looking for "Absolute Beginner" or "Beginners 1" classes, not just "Beginners" as many so-called "beginner" classes have people in them who  have been attending that same class for years and the level of the class has moved on with them, but it has not been renamed to reflect that.

 

I would recommend you go on Youtube and look at some of the ballet teaching videos on there. e.g. the ones by Finis Jhung aimed at absolute beginners. If you like them you can buy the full DVDs or downloads from Amazon, but unfortunately he no longer ships them directly to the UK himself from his website.

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It sounds to me that you might like the structure of following a syllabus .....? If you could find an RAD class, then you could supplement this (and break it down more specifically) between classes by downloading content onto the RAD app (which has videos of each grade content) - https://www.radenterprises.co.uk/rad-video-applications/?zenid=2n48sg56rarvflpdube52ti8k4

 

It just strikes me that this would be one way of making your learning seem more structured and progressive .... and less confusing. 

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You may enjoy Barre Pilates classes.

 

These aren't really ballet classes, more an exercises class based on ballet principles, but great for strengthening and improving balance and flexibility.

 

The majority of the class is at the Barre - with some traditional ballet barre exercises and some which focus on strengthening bits that ballet doesn't always get to :)

 

Classes vary depending on the teacher, but often centre work is replaced by something more like a pilates matwork section.

 

Claire's Pilates Studios in Garforth may be accessible for you.  I used to go to her classes when she was based in Leeds City Centre and they were excellent.

 

 

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For a beginner i had private lessons at first which i found useful for when i joined a beginner's class. I now do 2 classes a week, the one on one lessons were useful.

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Hello! I'm new to this ballet business too - although I did 'train' as a young child, it was a good couple of decades ago and I remember about five instances of the whole experience. So I was effectively an almost complete beginner when I started about 3ish months ago.

 

Let me describe my first "beginners class" session - the class started a bit late so we jumped straight into the fastest demonstration of tendus imaginable, the teacher explained posture as we were doing them, set moves known to experienced class members were done so I had no idea what was going on, centre work was a blur and half the time I couldn't see anything. I was also pooped physically/mentally by mid-session. If that's a recipe for not wanting to return, I don't know what is! 😧

 

However, I'm a stickler for 'if you really want it, try the brand new thing for at least 3 months before moving on'. Of course if there are more pressing things to do then that is understandable. The next session was much better: we warmed up nice and slowly, focused on posture and went through all the movements slowly on both sides before the music. I place myself near to people who I know are usually good at following the class so if I get lost I can figure out what I should be doing if the teacher is too far. If you don't know who these people are, ask the teacher to place you. I also started going to class three times a week - two with the first teacher and one with another. They have slightly different styles of teaching and their temp replacements were totally different too. I'd recommend to go for drop-in/taster sessions to try different teachers and figure out your learning style. You'll then be able to approach them for a private session if you want.

 

I'm easily the first teacher's least technical and capable student (not an exaggeration - many students are from other dance and performance backgrounds or are more advanced). I've mentally/emotionally found it very hard to deal with being consistently not very good, particularly at keeping up in the centre as I struggle with recalling the sequences. Even with repeated exposure. I also felt super silly when doing the movement across the floor for a while. However, we're not the only ones who can't keep up - please don't worry that you can't. As a student had said to me 'just try to do something like the basic steps or move with the group, the rest will come later'.

 

To keep going back, I've been counting each little victory and I fully recommend that to everyone. So far, my posture and technique have definitely improved, my turnout too. I understand hand movements to the point that it's a bit more instinctive (I still forget and hold my hand weirdly when totally focused on the feet!) and I can reach the second section of movements in the centre before completely zoning out (hurrah - I had posted a desperate 'I understand nothing' post a couple of months back about this). I've reached the point where I can now practice at home.

 

The point of the spiel about my recent experiences is that if you really want to give it a shot, try different teachers, go at least twice a week (if you're financially able) or do a set absolute beginners course, and keep going back for at least a few months to get a feel for it before throwing it in.

 

Good luck! 😀

Edited by FlowerPower
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Probably not of huge interest to most, of course, but thought I'd close this off, in the short to medium term at least, by saying I've gone for the regular, conventional, sort of class rather than anything one-to-one etc.  It seems its important to pick venue and classmates as well as type of class per se, and to tell you truth I've gone for the same teacher/class (Patricia Veale School of Dance, York) as when I briefly dabbled a year or more ago but this time, as I say, different people and building.  Only been twice but looking forward to making it regular.

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I didn't get along with ballet the first time I tried it, at the age of 29, but 12 years down the line I've been back in the studio for a year with a regular (male) teacher, building on the same combinations throughout a term with the same group of students, and I really enjoy it.  I'm two weeks into Improvers now, with the same teacher, and not completely out of my depth!  From what you've said, it sounds as though once you've been at it for a couple of months consistently, you'll have the hang of the basics and be more comfortable in classes that aren't the specific thing you're used to.

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Good to hear @York UK beginner I think a regular class with the same teacher, is probably one of the best ways to build your confidence and knowledge as well as technique.

 

Hope it keeps working for you!

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1 hour ago, Kate_N said:

Good to hear @York UK beginner I think a regular class with the same teacher, is probably one of the best ways to build your confidence and knowledge as well as technique.

 

Hope it keeps working for you!

 

Indeed! Thank you for updating us, too - hope you stay around as you continue your ballet journey. ☺️

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Even if you are quite experienced with ballet it's always difficult as Kate said if you are trying to up your game and try a harder class sometimes! I've got less confident with this as I've got older so do tend to stick to certain teachers and levels even though I know I should  push myself more sometimes. 

As it happens last year my timetable was a bit mixed between higher Intermediate classes ( just below Advanced though the barre probably similar to Advanced level) ....and what would be called Improvers ( sort of Elementary level ....below Intermediate around Grade 5 level. 

In one class I could say I was the usually the most advanced pupil 😊 and in another of the classes I attended I would consider myself usually the least advanced pupil eg: bottom of the class 😬.... the other classes  just in the middle......quite a nice place to be actually! 

It was interesting to be in these positions though as it does affect you emotionally. 

On the worst days  in the most advanced class:   lots of wobble wobble wobble in adagio, can't do a single turn right, just couldn't get that step which would have  clinched the petit allegro section, feel like I can't even get half an inch off the floor in a lovely set grand allegro etc etc. 

 I would then think why on earth am I doing this what have I learned in all the years why am I torturing myself!! 

Then Id have a quite good day in a class where I would be fairly invisible ( not the best not the worst) and think ooh I'm enjoying this and then have a brilliant expressive day in the easiest class and think this is what dancing is all about I'm not so bad at this after all! 

But the best days were in the most difficult class when I didn't make a complete mess of nearly every centre exercise or the teacher actually complimented me on a particular exercise .......What me!!! did he say my name!!! and blush blush etc. 😇 

 

Ballet is certainly something you have to keep persevering with .....some days you just want to cry and others you're on cloud nine. 

No matter how good you are I'm sure it's always a bit up and down but the ups are definitely worth it! 

 

 

 

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I agree with LinMM some days are better than others. In class yesterday my pirouettes were dreadful and for some reason I struggled with a turn I had thought I'd mastered. Then the adage went really well and I felt really chuffed with myself. 

 

It can be deeply frustrating but when it works it all feels worthwhile. Can't wait for class tomorrow 😀😙

Edited by Tango Dancer
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