Ballet Classes, Friends&Family, Inspiration

Father’s Day Ballet

Yesterday, March 19th, was Father’s Day here in Portugal. So, this week, at Backstage, we have Father’s Week. The students can bring their fathers to class. I must admit I wasn’t expecting anything because I teach ballet and we all know how difficult it can be to convince a man to go to a ballet class. But, I guess, all it takes is their daughters smiles because, my Baby Class today was full of little ballerinas and their parents. 

It was really fun to see some of them really scared as they were walking in the classroom. I had to assure them they wouldn’t do pirouettes or splits. I just told them that, in a pas de deux, a man’s job is to make the women shine brighter so, their job was to make their little girls shine! 

What a fun class it was… Fathers emerged into my fairytale class and really commited to make their daughters happy, they helped them walk, skip, run, jump, fly… And the girls couldn’t be more happy!! It was such an amazing class, a great experience, for me as a teacher, and also for the girls and their parents. 

In the end, as I give them stickers for good behavior, they also wanted to reward their fathers 😉 

Ballet Classes, Ballet Tips, Dance, Dancers Life, Students

Correcting Posture Problems

I always have attention to details, I’m picky and I’m very careful with my students. I always like to lead them to do things well done and I don’t tend to let things “pass” just because they’re minor. These “minor things” can prevent them from evolving and getting better. I always say that is better less and good than much and bad. 

Today I have a good example. A student was working her arms by contracting her shoulder blades instead of lengthening them. The port de bras was good, but she was contracting her shoulders, as you can see in the image below. 


The best way to explain this to students is to make them place their arms in second position and then, in front of them, pull their arms wide apart to their diagonal lines (slightly forward). They will feel it immediately; their shoulder blades will lengthen and they will even feel a “weird pain” along their arms. This is the feeling that tells them they are placing their arms correctly. From here, tell them that everything in their port the bras is to be wide and always lengthening outwards. And you will have beautiful and well placed port de bras!

Ballet Classes, Ballet Show, Ballet Tips, Dance, Dancers Life, Students, Uncategorized

Stage Basics

I had a show this past weekend. It was a school show, we had three sessions (Saturday at 16h and 21h; Sunday at 18h). As much as I have to say about what happened this weekend, I want to talk about a subject that is as important to a dancer as picking the right shoes or leotard: Stage Basics. 

When I talk about stage basics, I mean everything that makes you ready to go on stage flawless (like a ballerina should be 😉). Of course there’s your outfit, your tights and shoes and some warm up clothes (very important!!) but, how about the rest? What should you carry in your bag? 

Let’s start from the top:

Hairspray

– Hair gel

– Bobby pins 

– Rubber bands

Hairnet 

– Brush

– Comb

– Toothbrush

You must ensure that you have everything you need for your hair to be perfect, including head accessories if needed. Also, if you’re not having some expert doing your hair, you must know how to do it yourself. 

And, how about make-up? Every dancer or teacher has it’s tips and tricks but, here are the products that I find essential:

Primer

– Foundation

– Fixation Powder

– Bronzer

– Blush

Highlighter

– Eyelash curler

– Mascara

– Eyeliner

– (Other items maybe needed depending on various factors: lipstick, eyeshadow, glitter, etc…)

Here again, unless your makeup is too specific that needs to be done by an expert, you must do it yourself and make sure it’s stage ready. Don’t forget that, when you are on stage, your make up must be exaggerated. You will have many lights on you, and also you will sweat, a lot. So, enough is not enough. 

As a teacher, I expect my students to know this and to be always stage ready when I need them to be. I pass this on to them and it’s really nice to see that the older ones are now helping and teaching their tips and tricks to the younger ones. This is what makes a dancer. 

Last weekend, I couldn’t believe when the students approached me to help them with their ballet buns and their make up. And, most of them didn’t have their own make up! My fellow teacher never taught her students about this matters. 

This is my advice , teach your students everything that a dancer needs to know, not only technique, not only performance… Encourage them to have everything in their bags and encourage them to be responsible for themselves and their stuff. This way, a sense of maturity will grow within each one and they will feel even more fulfilled when it’s their turn to pass on some wisdom 😉

Ballet Classes, Dance, Students, Uncategorized

The worst thing

I have a class of teenagers, at a school in Porto, that has a very rude temperament. To contextualize, I only began these classes in this school in september. They had other teacher that left during the summer. When I arrived, beside the adaptation that is always hard for children, I noticed they were all very bad behaved. Of course I can’t  allow some behaviours in my class. The begginnig was hard because I was imposing many rules that they didn’t have before. But now, some months have passed and they are all amazing, polite and focused students. Except this one class of teenagers…

They have between 10 and 13, which are terrible ages and they are lazy, really lazy. Every class is a battle because they like to measure forces with me. Of course I don’t give them a chance but, it’s really exhausting. 

Yesterday they were supposed to have two classes: Floor Barre and Grade 6. They don’t like Floor Barre and they do everything that is possible to be late for that. Of course, if they are late, they miss the warm up and I don’t let them do the class without proper warm up. So, I make them sit through the entire class. And it was one of those days, so, I started Grade 6 with a lecture, reforcing the importance of Floor Barre and also pointing out how rude they were. The class started with a heavy mood. When they were already at the centre, I asked for the Adage and one of the students said: “do I really have to do it?”

That was it, I couldn’t fight it anymore. Everyclass, she is the worst in terms of behaviour. It was the moment I said to myself “I quit”. And I replied to her: “Beatriz, I’m only telling you this one thing: the only thing worst than having a teacher that is always lecturing you or correcting you, is to have a teacher that has lost her interest in you. And, now, I tell you, no, you don’t have to do the exercise. Do has you wish.” Can you believe she actually sat on the floor after that? The rest of the class was so straight and focused, I couldn’t believe that girl was doing that… 

It was definitely my breakup point, I couldn’t continue to believe in someone who acted like this over and over again. 

Students, believe that, if your teachers correct you or lecture you or push you beyond your limits, that’s because they believe in you, they have faith your potential!! Work with them and you will be amazed of your achievings. Because, behind every dancer who believes in himself, there’s always a teacher who believed first. 

Dancers Life, Inspiration, Quotes

Feeling inspired…

A week ago I went to see the new movie, “La La Land” … I confess that it took me a long time to understand the fact that it was nominated for so many prizes.I do consider the great artists that worked on this film and it was really good on so many levels. I just didn’t think it was THAT good…
But there was a detail of the film that captivated me, which filled my heart, which inspired me: the musi!! Phenomenal! Excellent work by Justin Hurwitz, superb musicality and sensitivity … I may not have found “La La Land” the movie of the year, but the soundtrack is definitely the best I’ve ever heard. I have not tired of listening to the full album yet, and every day I feel inspired in different ways. Thank you so much to the artists who are able to touch us in the depth of our hearts and souls.

“Here’s to the ones who dream

Foolish as they may seem

Here’s to the hearts that ache

Here’s to the mess we make”

Ballet Classes, Ballet Tips, Dance, Students

Being too picky…

This week I had an adult student, in her 30s, from my group of Ballet Adults Initiation who informed the school secretary of her intention to drop classes. The reason? The teacher was too picky, the school was too professional and we were demanding too much of her. I did not want to believe when Ana, the school secretary, explained it to me, because the student refused to talk directly to me, the reason for the quitting. I never thought that there was anyone who intended to attend ballet classes without being encouraged to improve, without being corrected in order to become a stronger and safer dancer. All that girl wanted to do was her own way, without having to think about the muscles she wore or the way she wore them.

Of all the times that I corrected or directed her in a certain direction, it never occurred to me that she did not want to be helped …

In my classes, I work like this. I do not assume all students want to be professionals and I fully understand that most of them just do ballet as a hobby, to turn off their heads at the end of a day’s work. But do not think that you come to my classes to be unaccompanied, not corrected, not encouraged, not directed in the right way … Classical ballet is an activity that requires physical awareness, technical, if not otherwise, to avoid injuries (which can be many and serious ones) and so I demand from my students, professionals or amateurs, that they are focused, attentive, aware, always open to suggestions and corrections.

And my advise to everyone who intends to enrol in ballet classes; yes, ballet it’s a great way to distract yourself, to turn off your mind from the busy everyday work BUT, it’s also a great way to gain physical awareness, to get to know ourselves and our body a bit more. It’s a mental and physical work that requires 100% focus. Please, consider that when you ask for a professional teacher to have you in their classes. For us, it’s a commitment, make it a commitment for you too 😉