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, 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. 

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, Dance, Dancers Life

It made my day ❤️

Do you know that feeling when the least thing you want to do is to get up and go to classes? Do you also have some of THOSE days? Well, I do. Not very often, fortunately, but every once in a while. I don’t like those days and today was one of those. 

Then, in my first class of the day, a little girl (about 4 years old) approaches me and says she wants to give me a gift because is almost International Womans Day (!!). And she  hands me a flower with the brightest smile on her face 😀 



Well, if I could receive a flower everytime I feel down, the world would be a much better place. Thank you to my students for making me feel happy, even when I don’t feel like teaching!! ❤️