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!

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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, 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 😉

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

Planning Classes #2

Follow a syllabus or your own path?

The first thing I think about when planning my classes is the syllabus I’m going to follow. Will I be proposing students to ballet exams this year? Wich grades? Because I’m a RAD registered teacher and, in my country, ballet exams are highly valorized, most of the time, I teach with that purpose. 

I don’t think that teachers should think of the syllabus as a way to reach an end. I think that they should think of it as an end for wich we need to find our way. So, each time I’m going to teach a particular grade, I study the syllabus and then I creat my own exercises to introduce it to my students. I plan carefull goals for each grade and exercise and work with my students step by step. This way, the approach to the syllabus would be simpler and easier for them. They have already learned the technique and, therefore, they can concentrate on other aspects of their dancing. 



On the other hand, if you don’t follow any syllabus in your ballet classes, don’t leave planning aside. It’s important for you and it’s important for your students. For you because it helps you to keep track of each class and the evolution of your dancers. And for them because, that way, they can understand the “whys” and “hows” of each step and their progressions. Their work will be much better :) 

Ballet Classes, Ballet Tips, Dance, Dance Trivia, Dancers Life, Uncategorized

Planning Classes #1

Planning for your classes

There are several things that, as a ballet teacher, need careful planning. Of those many things, classes are the most important. How can we plan our classes? How SHOULD we plan our classes? And what if something goes wrong with our meticulous planning? 

I think planning is the most important thing in my job and also what makes me love it the most. In paying attention to every single detail in our planning we are telling our students how much we care for them, their work and their evolution as dancers. It’s as simple as that. 

I have a rule of my own that is: plan month by month and never plan to much ahead because, sometimes (most of the times, actually), something is going to happen that will need a new or a different approach. So, every class I jot down a few notes about how it went, how the students were feeling and how they are adapting to the exercises and technique required. Then, at the end of the month, I study what needs to be changed for the next one. I’m not saying that I change every exercise, every month. The students won’t beneficiate from that, since ballet is a discipline based on repetition. But, sometimes we think that one approach is the correct one for a particular step and, turns out, it’s not. 

My advice, pay attention to your class and your students and adapt your planning to their needs 🙂

Ballet Classes, Ballet Tips, Dance, Dancers Life

Organising your (ballet) life

As the new year smoothly takes place, we all begin to apply our resolutions or to adapt old ones. One of mine is “to keep everything organized. So, each year, I get a new planner and start to prepare my life. Each year I change something about the way I plan things and, mostly, about the way I plan my classes, shows and everything around my ballet life. I feel that I learn something different each passing year and I tend to get a better method each time 🙂
How about you? How do you feel about keeping everything organized in one place?

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Ballet Classes, Ballet Exams, Ballet Show, Ballet Tips, Dancers Life

Calm down… And enjoy the moment!

balletbackstage

Every once in a while, in a dancers life, comes a moment where the nerves “talk” out loud and, sometimes, don’t let us think, dance or perform properly.

When you make a life out of it or you’re used to moments like this, you may have a few tricks of your own to fight the nerves and the stress. But, sometimes, or if you’re not that used to moments of tension, you might need help and some tips.

Don’t let stage fright get the better of you. Here are some usefull tips (either you are a student, a professional dancer or just dance for hobby):

1. Don’t be afraid of the butterflies in your stomach: Nerves can give you an extra shot of adrenaline which will keep you focused on stage and will help your energy levels. Think about using that extra boost to your advantage.

2.  Give yourself plenty of time to properly warm up, fix your hair and makeup, rosin your shoes and dress—rushing will only increase your anxiety.

3. Look for ways to relax backstage: Listen to your favorite songs on your iPod, find a quiet space to meditate, read a book… Maybe sit on the sit on the audience while there’s nobody there or go to the empty stage and enjoy the silence.

4. Remember that your technique isn’t going to magically disappear while you’re onstage. Trust in the strength you’ve gained during the many hours (or classes) you’ve spent training in the studio.

5. Remind yourself that the choreography is something you’ve done millions of times. Let yourself go a bit so you can enjoy the moment up there.The best performers are the ones who can truly enjoy the moment and transmit something more than just technique to their audience.

6. Try to clear your mind by not thinking about the performance or examination. Instead, think about stuff you like to do, travelling, cute animals… Anything that keep your mind away from your fear.