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Michelle_Richer

Simply Adult Ballet: the progress of one adult dancer who took up ballet later in life

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I do sometimes wonder Michelle what you would have achieved in the ballet world had you started much younger.  I don't by this mean your actual dancing but I can't help but think you would have been an amazing choreographer as the best choreography often seems to come from those who challenge existing ideas.

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Aileen:

Wow this debate is getting exiting.

 

Did anyone tell you, there is a time and a place for everything. One NEVER make a teacher or presenter look silly in front of a class or audience, there are no winners from that. I have never ever done that or even considered it in ballet class, as I have never done that in my professional career in a conference setting either.

 

I’m really not sure where this encroaching thing came from, perhaps you are being inventive.

 

But just to bring some normality back, I did say non of my teachers have ever suggested correction etc by removing my hand from the barre towards the end of an exercise when to me it felt appropriate to do that to enhance ones balance capability.

 

Furthermore I have seen considerably less contact with the barre from a couple of dancers in a class I attended who were Bolshoi trained and qualified, even though they were not actually working, I think they were as near professional as you could get, even so that is not my motivation to copy them, for me it just makes good common sense where appropriate for me.

 

2Dancersmum

I often wonder where I had been If I had started in this field much younger, I certainly would never limit it to being a talented choreographer. Even now I wonder where it will all end, its just those little things that behave like catalysts. Recently I have hired two dance studios, I was offered a stage and recording studio by one organisation, these things have a way of festering before developing into something, unfortunately its very difficult to stop the thinking process, there is always that “JUST MAYBE” glint in ones eye.

Edited by Michelle_Richer

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Starting a new class is always a big step and takes time to settle. Enjoy Fiz.

I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinion and will not fall into the trap of evoking drama. All I would say is the day I stop learning from others is the day I should stop teaching/dancing. I may not always like what I hear but at times of great personal challenge come opportunities for insight and change. Having said that I feel uneasy reading about teachers who are identifiable being openly criticised on this forum when they will not have the chance to respond and things can be taken out of context. I shall say no more.

Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. One thing I always do is look at the bottom of the page to see who's reading a thread. There are always at least one, usually several "guests" reading - which should remind us all that this is a public forum and what we say is visible to the entire internet.

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Michelle,

 

Going back to your comments about using the barre for barre work, Tulip is right in that professional dancers don't need to prove to anyone that they can balance. That is not why they do barre work. They 'need' the barre because it helps them with their weight placement and alignment.

 

If you use the barre correctly it tells you about your turnout, strength and weight placement. By strength, I mean the strength in your centre and your strength in holding your turnout. For example, if you were aiming to balance in retire on demi-pointe, and your hips go back (even slightly) on taking your hand off the barre, you know your weight placement has gone off. Or maybe your upper back has gone back (even slightly) when taking your hand off the barre to balance in retire. This means you've lost the hold in your centre.

 

This is why ballet dancers need the barre. It keeps your weight placement in the correct place to allow you to work on other things. It can also tell you when you've become 'off'. Professional dancers don't use the barre for barre work because they are 'a passive participant'. Barre work is not there just because of 'old ways' and 'tradition'.

 

While learning ballet you work on your technique at the barre. Then in the centre you aim to reproduce the same quality of work without a barre to keep you in the right alignment. This, in my opinion, is the hardest thing about ballet.

 

I hope this makes sense to you.

Edited by Dancer Sugar Plum
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I don't think letting go of the barre to test your placement and balance is always a result of 'ignorance and incompetence' and 'arrogance', mimi66. Sometimes it is very useful to check yourself by lifting the hand off the barre. Obviously if it is done to 'show off' or to intimidate other dancers, that is not good and should rightly be addressed, but It can be helpful. Indeed, some of the new syllabus RAD vocational work includes barre exercises in which the hand is lifted from the barre at the end - no gripping too tightly in the throes of exam nerves!

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Dear Dancer Sugar Plum

You have to remember I do a large number of class, I try and take what I consider is best practice of each, and of course there will be differences. At least two of my class usually results in some form of balance off the barre at the end of that movement. Its entirely at the dancer’s discretion as to when they let go of the barre. As I’m a very inexperienced dancer on this forum against the years of training of our fellow members, I need all the balance practice I can get. As it is I cannot hold a retire/releve on balance for the four minute requested by my local teacher at the time, however I did make 55seconds (almost one minute). Anyway to quote our great Anjuli on #253 of this thread, I’m at least trying to dance my barre, for me at least it not a military drill.

 

Balleteacher

Your comment “Having said that I feel uneasy reading about teachers who are identifiable being openly criticised on this forum”, I sincerely hope I haven't done that as I would be uneasy about it too.

 

DavidW

I really like the comment “that one of the uses of the barre is to prepare the ladies for working with a partner”, Yes I wish we had done this in our Monday afternoon class prior to our centre work, which in this case was part of the Grade 5 performance Enchainment for the schools 50th anniversary Show. unfortunately Adult ballet is not in involved that one. Our class was very small last week only 5 dancers, 2 of the girls and our teacher played the male roll for this part, they kneeled on one foot, while we placed both hands on their right shoulder, developped our right leg out and up to the ceiling. The teacher was my male partner and we were positioned away from the mirror, I really didn’t know where my leg and turnout was, I couldn’t see it. It felt strait but probably wasn’t. But then we were only learning this sequence and without a dought I will check that on the barre next week before we add to this sequence again (that’s initiative). We were told it had been adapted from an Egyptian ballet, a really nice piece. That’s my kind of centre work.

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As I think has been said in the past it is always worth reading through any post and thinking before pressing send. If organisations, workshop venues or standards of classes are mentioned then many will know the teachers to whom you refer or can find out easily. I personally see no harm in discussing workshops/classes etc in terms of sharing experiences but you may wish to consider it the other way around as in I do not recall anybody making derogatory comments about identifiable members of adult ballet classes so should this be different for teachers and organisations?

 

It is extremely easy to discuss an issue that is difficult without using any identifiable features.

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I don't think letting go of the barre to test your placement and balance is always a result of 'ignorance and incompetence' and 'arrogance', mimi66. Sometimes it is very useful to check yourself by lifting the hand off the barre. Obviously if it is done to 'show off' or to intimidate other dancers, that is not good and should rightly be addressed, but It can be helpful. Indeed, some of the new syllabus RAD vocational work includes barre exercises in which the hand is lifted from the barre at the end - no gripping too tightly in the throes of exam nerves!

 

Nice of you to say so, I feel a bit less ashamed of the mistakes I made in my early adult ballet days!  :)

 

Though I write red faced here that what I did was a bit more than testing - I thought it was a good idea to do the barre as if I was in the centre. Hence the wording "ignorance and incompetence"....

 

Hasten to add that it never occured to me to frown others using barre in my class.

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As I think has been said in the past it is always worth reading through any post and thinking before pressing send. If organisations, workshop venues or standards of classes are mentioned then many will know the teachers to whom you refer or can find out easily. I personally see no harm in discussing workshops/classes etc in terms of sharing experiences but you may wish to consider it the other way around as in I do not recall anybody making derogatory comments about identifiable members of adult ballet classes so should this be different for teachers and organisations?

 

It is extremely easy to discuss an issue that is difficult without using any identifiable features.

 

Balleteacher, I am also worried about this.  In fact, I can identify quite few individuals from the information provided, and that's without turning to google search.

 

Recently in another thread it became clear that a lot of people read this forum as "guests", and in this occasion the very person (who are not members of this forum) and those who are close to that person have been reading the forum and were very concerned about the things being said about them...

 

Edited to add that I am not an insider or in a ballet related profession, just an amature dancer.  And it really concerns me that even someone like myself can easily identify people mentioned by the posts.

Edited by mimi66
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As I think has been said in the past it is always worth reading through any post and thinking before pressing send. If organisations, workshop venues or standards of classes are mentioned then many will know the teachers to whom you refer or can find out easily. I personally see no harm in discussing workshops/classes etc in terms of sharing experiences but you may wish to consider it the other way around as in I do not recall anybody making derogatory comments about identifiable members of adult ballet classes so should this be different for teachers and organisations?

 

It is extremely easy to discuss an issue that is difficult without using any identifiable features.

 

 

Wise words Balleteacher.  I don't attend any form of dance class but I have identified a couple of the teachers mentioned on this thread.

 

As mimi66 says, if I can identify people then it would be easy for many members of this forum to do the same.

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Wow what observations girls:

 

1 My comments are provocative.

2 My views are irritating and presumptuous

3 I know better than my teachers.

4 I criticise teachers who are identifiable

5 I am a more 'thinking' student than the other students.

6 I frown on others using barre in my class.

7 Other students do not matter.

 

I guess this “Bad Girl” must be character building for her “Black Swan “ image to go with the tutu, best I guess the dance right then, otherwise I will loose all street cred on this forum.

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Welcome Petunia

 

I have a feeling this is not going to be a good day for me with the tube strike still on in London. Although the Victoria Line is down as Special Service, I don’t think its picking up at King Cross where I get in, or dropping off at Victoria. I’ve checked busses for that route and there is a No73 but it takes 45minutes.

 

The real challenge will come tonight when My London Amateur Ballet session finishes at 9.30pm, the 170 bus usually picks up just out side RAD HQ at Battersea a minute or two to 10pm, and I need to get on board my train from Kings Cross to Peterborough before midnight otherwise my return ticket is invalid, furthermore I’m likely to incur another £7.00 parking charge at Peterborough station, so it could be an expensive and frustrating night.

 

It looks like the same pandemonium with the underground next week too

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To be honest Michelle, if people don't absolutely have to go to London today I would advise against attempting it.

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Hi Spannerandpony

 

I agree with you, I didn't go on Tuesday and missed my two ENB classes, I wasn't so bothered about that as my level 3 teacher is away for a couple of weeks. But with LAB we are constantly on rehearsal for our Gala Show doing more than one rep, and I missed the first session so at least I'm caught up now, I don't want that to drift behind as we do progress quite quickly.

Edited by Michelle_Richer

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I feel a bit guilty but I am secretly pleased about the tube strike....(sorry!).

 

Yes, it is a bother to get to work and back, but I know there will be less people in the class tonight, so the grand allegro portion of the class will be fun!

 

After having refrained from grand allegro (due to the condition affecting balance),  I am desparate for some big jumps. So looking forward to tonight's class.

Edited by mimi66

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there is a No73 but it takes 45minutes.

 

 

 

45 minutes on a normal day.  On the basis of yesterday, you'll probably need to double that (and that's if you can get on the bus at all).

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I feel sorry for people trying to get to - or having to cancel - medical appointments. London is already hard enough to get around for the ill, in pain or disabled, let alone now. Incredibly frustrating.

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Glad the class has gone well enough for you to want to continue with it Fiz. :) A full on Intermediate class is testing enough both in adage and allegro sections!! All those beats!! I'm just managing a brisee at the mo and an entrechat Quatre but not two beats following each other yet!! But am beginning to put them in.....or at least was....but on Saturday in the workshop got a bit carried away (I really loved jumping when younger) and that coupled with whole day of dancing has aggravated a recovering foot injury. :(

I love that step sissonne doublee (putting double ee for the french accent!) assemble I think it's called and tant de cuisse so quick and fast. Some of the BBO Intermediate petit allegro sections are quite challenging but fun to do even if have to still adapt here and there. Hoping to have these perfected and with no adaptations by the end of the summer term!!

 

Enough has been said on the barre question I think. But the centre and barre can give mutual feedback. If you are too tightly gripping the barre and then try to do a barre exercise in the centre your weight will be all over the place. But you can see where it is (too far back, not on top of leg, too far forward...whatever) and then go back to the barre in another class and try to correct. By the time you are up to grade 5 and beyond you are encouraged to take the hand off at the barre at certain points at the end of exercises to test your balance so the hand gets more and more lightly placed as you progress......but the barre is there to serve as a warm up for centre practice so is a very useful guide. I like the idea mentioned that girls should see the barre as their future partner so to speak......so best not to give him too,many bruises!!

Looks like you'll be teaming up with David Copperfield soon Michelle if you can get both feet off the floor!! :D

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Hi Lin

 

Of course Feet off the ground, I’m always there for a white knuckle ride. I really wish I could fly then getting to class tonight would be no problem.

 

I’ve been down the village hall this morning and collected the key from my old ballet teacher. Ran through the two reps we did last week at LAB ready for tonight. Went through Giselle’s variation the RB version and the Cuban one we both did on Saturday, and a bit of Corsaire too.

 

I’m off in a few minutes on the adventures to my LAB session, I’m not sure what else you would call it, but I’m sure a few here wont be short of a few words.

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Mission accomplished, managed to get to my LAB session at Battersea and back, there were quite a few missing tonight, so after company class we only did one rep, but we had added quite a bit to it and rehearsed it several times through before videoing, but never the less it still may get minor changes and tweaks. I think we are about half way through on that piece.

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Oh Stretch and Tone, that sounds very much like GoDance. I occasionally do that at their place in Sleaford when we are not on rehearsal at the Angles Theatre, but this year we have started a month early. It was a really nice class starting with a cardio warm-up, it was run buy one of the ballet teachers called Harriet, a really nice girl. Go and enjoy, it will get you fit.

Edited by Michelle_Richer
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Yes, it is, Michelle. They have a lovely new studio here about five minutes drive from us. I was quite shocked when I was so stiff two days after class even thought I have been flat out busy for months.

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I like Harriet very much, as I only do there adult beginners class, as its just before there stretch and tone class, its very basic but good fun. It was the stretch and tone class where I was first was able to get my nose to my knee in a kind of splits movement. I love it, their intermediate class is on a Thursday, I used to time share between Peterborough and footlight performing arts at King Lynne , Norfolk. Those are sadly history now, I'm in London Again with London Amateur Ballet doing rehearsals for our Gala Performance in July, that's where my real heart lies.

 

I have had a really frustrating week end doing prep for an important private class which has cost an arm and a leg, for me its worth it. The enchainement we are doing consists of a three assembies, which since my injury, psychologically I feel is holding me back Grrr, it must be some protection instinct. the 5 travelling pirouettes are no problem as the rest, but I seem to have a large mental bock in my own studio with anything that's jump related, although I thought I had got over it at the hall I hired on a Thursday after my local teachers ballet session

.

Edited by Michelle_Richer

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No class on Wednesday as it is my youngest's birthday and she wants to go out with us for a meal. I might go to the beginner's class at the other school tomorrow night instead. I do wish her birthday had fallen on another day! ;)

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I should have been really refreshed and bright eyed and bushy tailed today after a weekend with no ballet. However it was just the opposite, I felt really deflated, tired out and lethargic. My first class today “Body Balance”, I managed to fall over, something I have never done, worst still I was front line where we are supposed to know what we are doing. My first ballet class did give me some energy, but by the time I had driven home most of that had gone.

It took a lot of effort to get ready and go tonight, even the weather was against me, I drove through 2 hasty hail storms, it was dark and visibility was extremely poor, I had to put my fog lights on to see. The road was covered in hail stones and slush, just as if it had been snowing. The class itself was good, unfortunately we’ve lost our Other Older Lady as she has gone back to South Africa, so with absentees there were only four of us and one of those girls went home poorly. Next week is our half term break, however I will be at RAD at the weekend so it won’t be so bad and I think the other class is still running. My class tonight at least restored my energy level, that I will need tomorrow in London with a private rep tuition session, and my usual two classes at ENB, I just hope the Piccadilly line in still open for me to come back, otherwise it’s a No10 bus from the Royal Albert Hall to Kings Cross.

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That's me too with the ironing - got both Adele albums and often dance along with them as I iron. Tube strike is cancelled so Michelle should be ok for her London classes. I say should because who knows with this weather. 25 minute journey to the orthodontist this morning in the rain and hail took 1 hour 20 mins because the roads were so bad.

Oh good; thank you for updating about the strike. :-)

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Thank goodness the tube strike was suspended, one of my teachers told me, so at least I wasn’t having to change my travel arrangement. It was a brilliant day I learnt an enormous amount from my private class but the studio wasn’t what I expected, but that was down to me for not seeing it first and booking on the basis of the pictures on the website, I have one more session there then we will move to one I have checked out.

 

Unfortunately yesterday my legs have taken quite a pounding, they were in remarkably good shape when I got off the train at Peterborough last night, but are quite painful this morning. Only one class tonight, rehearsal at the Angles Theatre as I’m at a conference this afternoon in Cambridge, so hopefully they will get a bit of a rest then.

 

 

Terpsichore:

As RAD have had to cancel the Romeo and Juliet repertoire Workshop in Edinburgh on the 23rd Feb, it extremely unlikely I will see the girls at Northern Ballet on the 25th, as I’m becoming heavily loaded with Rep and rehearsals for the immediate future.

 

 

Lin

Another bit of bad news, it looks as if I wont be able to make the RAD Giselle workshop in Cambridge on 29th June, as I got an email last night with the same date for our last LAB rehearsal before the LAB gala at the Bloomsbury Theatre, although it didn’t say, I assume its our dress rehearsal even though its at ENB. I will find out for sure Thursday night.

Edited by Michelle_Richer

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Michelle_Richer

 

"Terpsichore:
As RAD have had to cancel the Romeo and Juliet repertoire Workshop in Edinburgh on the 23rd Feb, it extremely unlikely I will see the girls at Northern Ballet on the 25th, as I’m becoming heavily loaded with Rep and rehearsals for the immediate future."
 

I am sure that everybody in the Over 55 "Improvers" and "Choreography" classes at Quarry Hill will be sorry to miss you but we all know you are busy.

 

I hope you are looking after yourself well. You seem to follow a very rigorous (some might even say punishing) regime for which you have my respect and best wishes. At the same time, rather you than me.

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Wow, if my feet were not in a serious need of rest next week when most classes are on Half term break I would check that one out. I guess it will just have to wait. Its certainly a good price at £10 against the EB class at ROH at £25.

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