Ballet Class Etiquette for Adult Learners
6 October 2019
When you first arrive:
If you are new, go to the school Early…
- for registration
- to familiarise yourself with the area and where to park your car
- to find out where the Studio, changing room or toilet are, etc.. so that you won’t be too stressed and/or be late for class.
Dress appropriately for ballet class. Check out our school’s regulations about ballet wear for class and hair for male and female students.
Practice safe dancing like taking out all watches, step-trackers, jewelleries, bracelets, rings, etc. If you can’t take it out for religious reasons, get prior permission from the school or instructor before attending the class. The instructor, however, reserves the right to ask you to sit in for class if the item is deemed to be a danger to yourself or other students while dancing.
Get into a habit of switching all beeping devices especially your handphone to Silent mode (not vibrate mode) so that it doesn’t disrupt the class. You can set it to be Silent on pre-set times so that you will not forget. You should stay focussed to give your full attention in class and not be distracted by your phone. Alternatively, you may leave it outside of the dance studio but only when it is safe to do so.
Take off your street shoes and change into your ballet slippers before entering the dance studio. Make sure your hair is already bun up or tied properly. Do not tie or bun your hair in the studio. It is not your home or bedroom.
If you are late, enter the class and close the door softly. Acknowledge the teacher to apologise for being late.
Do not immediately join the exercise as you do not know what the exercise is about. This will disrupt the students already at the barre. Instead, go to an unoccupied corner to warm-up. Only join in when the exercise has been completed on both sides.
Avoid crackling your knuckles or yawn in class. It is disrespectful both to the art form and your instructor. If you feel a yawn coming, quickly close or cover your mouth. If you need to crack your knuckles, do it outside of dance studio before coming in. Don't make sound effects, count out loud or curse under your breath when you forgot or make a mistake. Ballet is a silent artform, broken only by the sound of piano music.
AT THE BARRE
If you are new, go to the barre that is least crowded and try to place yourself between the students there so that you have someone to follow during the exercise on both sides. Ask if you can stand at the barre where you chose in case you took someone’s favourite spot. Make friends so that class will feel less stressful on your first day (another good reason to come early).
When the instructor is calling out the steps for an exercise combination, immediately mark it out with your legs and arms so that you impress within your muscle a memory of the exercise combination. When the instructor repeats the combination, you’ll then be able to confirm the steps. This will help you to grasp the steps faster, see the pattern of the combination and therefore learn quicker. Then, when the exercise begins, you’ll just work on the technique rather than the exercise per se.
Pay attention to the instructor when he/she is giving correction to another student. If the instructor takes the time to stop the whole class for it, then it must be important. Do note the following:
- Do not talk amongst yourselves as you’re being disrespectful and also deprive others who want to hear it. It’s always good to hear corrections repetitively so that it is ingrained in you till it becomes 2nd nature.
- Do not practice other non-related steps like pirouettes when the teacher is teaching/correcting tendus, for example, (unless the tendu exercise incorporates pirouette. Even then, you are to practice that pirouette and not others). This is to respect the class, the teacher and students present.
- Stand properly and do not lean on the barre or sit down on the floor (unless you are injured) as that would cool down the muscles and increase the risk of injury from dancing on muscles that have gotten cold.
- As a Side Note: Do Not sit or lie down or have skin contact with the dance mat (like bare feet and hands) as your body oil makes the dance mat dangerously smooth and slippery for class. Some schools like ours do not allow that. So, it's best not to.
- Even though the correction is not made on you, a lot can be learned from watching.
- When the instructor calls out corrections during an exercise without singling out a name, it is meant for Everyone in class. Do not stop and turn to look at the instructor to see if he/she is directing it at you. Instead, continue your exercise while using your ears to listen and check yourself to see if you are doing it correctly as per instruction(s) / correction(s) given. Do not wait for the instructor to call your name to make the correction.
Always ask question if you are unclear by raising your hand.
IN THE CENTRE
When in the centre, do not to stand directly behind the person in front of you. In ballet class, lines are staggered so that the teacher can see you and vice versa. So, if you are in the 2nd row (for example), space yourself in between the 2 persons in the 1st row, in front of you:
x x x x
x x x
x x x x
Do not stand too close to your classmates either front, side or back. Your classmates will need space to move.
When the instructor gives the call to change row, the 1st row will move all the way to the back.
[If you are in the 1st row, do this by moving forward, turn to the side nearest you and then from the side, move to the back of the studio.]
Remember there are people behind you. The 2nd and the rest of the rows will move forward to fill in the row now left empty by the 1st row.
When marking out the steps for a combination, mark your arms and port de bras Fully as that helps you to remember the steps better. As you mark out the steps, see the pattern formation. Then, plan where to stand in the beginning so that you don’t end up too near the wall and unable to complete the steps.
When moving in the centre, stay within your formation so that you don’t block someone’s space or path of travel. Again, do not dance directly behind someone in case they stop suddenly and you crash into them.
When traveling en diagonale, do not aim for the same corner as your classmates. Instead, during preparation, chart your path parallel to your classmate’s and ensure it does not encroach into your classmate’s space. Then, do your best to keep your path. If you stray away, get back on it. Your classmates will thank you for it!
If the exercise is to be done in groups and you are not very sure of the exercise, then go to the later group where you have a chance to see how the exercise is executed before attempting it. If there’s a lot of travelling in the exercise, then maybe you’ll want to place yourself at the back of the group so that you don’t hinder those who knows the step and wants to travel. Just be considerate in class.
At the end, finish the exercise properly with the position or pose given by the instructor before moving off. If no pose is given, it is always a good practice to still finish the exercise with an appropriate ballet pose so that it becomes a natural part of you in this art form. Then, exit forward and to the side nearest to you. Be aware that you don’t clash with someone while doing so. Use your peripheral vision. Do not go straight to the back where you started as there will be another group coming from behind you.
AT THE END OF CLASS
When the instructor ends the class, it is good practice and courtesy to show appreciation by applauding to thank your instructor for the time & effort spent, materials taught and corrections given.
You may personally go to thank the Instructor but that’s up to you.
~~~ Food for Thought: "If an exercise seems boring, it's because you made it so." ~~~