Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Ballet Class Etiquette

Hello!  I found this article online and thought it very relevant to our every day at ESB and Vimy.  Although most of the time, most of our students really understand this, a reminder doesn't hurt!

1)      Be on time.  This does not mean stroll into the class room at 7:01 with your hair down, shoes in hand, your favorite hoodie wrapped around you, and gum in your mouth proclaiming to the entire class that you are late because you couldn’t find one of your shoes.  This means, be waiting at the door 5 minutes prior to your start time with your hair in a bun, shoes on, leotard and tights only, and no gum.  It’s pretty easy when you think about it.  With the exception of the first week, you know when class begins and it usually remains this time every single week.  By a certain age, you are unable to blame your parents for your tardiness or carelessness.  Every minute of ballet is crucial. 

2)      Know the dress code.  Whether you are at a recreational studio, competition studio, company, college, or ballet academy, almost all dance schools appreciate or ask girls for hair in bun, tights, leotard, and ballet shoes.  Some allow you to wear sheer skirts.  Boys are asked to wear tank tops and either male tights or tighter fitting pants.  This isn’t because your teacher has it out for you and wants you to freeze when you walk into class.  This is so she can properly correct you and so that you may properly execute your movements without distraction or falling. 

A)     When you put your hair up, make sure that it is up tightly so that you don’t have to adjust it during class at all.  Nothing irks a teacher more than a student starting an exercise late because she had to put her hair back up. 

B)      Be sure the elastic & ribbon is sewn properly on the ballet/pointe shoes.  If you have questions about where to sew it, ask your teacher.  I’m willing to bet that he or she knows the answer.  In addition to this, make sure you have proper shoes no later than the 3rd class. 

C)      Be aware of your leotard and tight color.  While florescent yellow may make the best fashion statement to show that you are an individual, ask yourself if it’s distracting to students while they chaine’ across the floor.  If the answer is yes, consider changing leotards. 

D)     If the teacher asks you to remove the t-shirt or shorts that are over your leotard, don’t get down on your knees and beg to keep them on.  Refer to the first paragraph in #2 and know that it’s for your own good. 

3)      Be mindful of barre space.   While you may be attached to the middle of the barre because you’ve stood there since you were a tot, know that class sizes change weekly and you may be asked to move.  Adjust gracefully.   Again, this isn’t because a classmate or teacher has it out for you.  This is so nobody gets kicked or knocked out during barre exercises.  After all, who wants to stop a fantastic ballet class to call 911?!

4)      Respect your classmates.  Ballet is not social hour.  You are there to learn and have fun.  This isn’t the time to confront ‘Sally Jo’ that she stole your boyfriend or that she stood in your space at the barre.   They are there to learn and have fun as well.  Although not every student has to be your best friend, keep in mind that you have at least one thing in common- and that is dance.  In addition to this, if ‘Sally Jo’ wants to ask the teacher what a plie’ is because she forgot, remind yourself that there are no stupid questions.  If it doesn’t concern you, don’t acknowledge it. 

5)      Body Language.  One thing a teacher looks for in students when they are evaluating them is attentiveness.  Whether or not you know it, you are being watched.  Know the preparation for both barre exercises as well as across the floor exercises and stand in them- whether it’s first position, tendu, B+, etc.  I guarantee your preparation doesn’t involve one popped knee with one hand on your hip with the other twirling your hair.  However, many students seem to think that all ballet exercises begin like this.  Be aware of your legs and arms at all times.  Keep your chin up and your ears open.  Just because a teacher isn’t correcting you at that exact moment does not mean that the correction doesn’t pertain to you.  Which brings me to my next thought…   

6)      Take corrections.  When a teacher corrects you, it isn’t because she is dying to hear herself speak.  The teacher is there to make you a better dancer.  An incorrect response to a correction would be “No, I wasn’t” or “’Sally Jo” moved so I couldn’t spot her.”   Take responsibility for your own actions.  Say “Thank you.” Or “I wasn’t aware I was doing that and I will fix it for next time.”  Or, if time permits, show the teacher that you can do it correctly.  Teachers appreciate that. 

7)      Respect the teacher.  Most dance instructors are so because, like you, they love to dance.  99% of them have the qualifications and/or the equivalent of qualified experience and want to share their knowledge with you.  What many students and dance parents do not realize is that dance instructors work many many off hours unpaid to better the student.  This often involves making lesson plans and syllabi, editing music, choreographing, picking out costumes, recital planning, etc.  They work hard and expect you to work hard as well.  This means that while you are in class, you are listening, focusing, and pushing yourself.  While you are out of class, it is up to you to practice and maybe even study your ballet terminology. 

8)      Have fun and remember why you dance in the first place.  Everyone dances for different reasons.  Some dance for exercise and flexibility.  Some dance to learn to be less clumsy and more graceful.  Some dance just for fun.  Some dance for the trophies.  Some dance to clear their minds.  Some dance to learn new moves.  Some (but very few) dance because they are forced to.  Whatever the reason is, make the best of it.  Have fun.  Be grateful.  Thank your parents and your teachers, and then give yourself a pat on the back for taking class. 

Dancingly Yours,
Miss Jaime

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