Ballet Class 101

by | Nov 20, 2014 | Beginners

Adult ballet class is where you learn the basics of ballet. There is no need to feel insecure if you’re new to ballet. The purpose of an adult ballet class is to offer instruction without the pressure of pursuing a professional performing career. Ballet class consists of three parts: barre, floor, and center.

The first part of ballet class is spent at the barre. The barre is a long wooden or metal bar fixed to the wall. If the class is large, the teacher may bring out free-standing barres to the middle of the room, so no one feels cramped. Since the body is not ready to perform elaborate movements across the floor, barre work is considered the warm-up portion of class and can last anywhere from 30-45 minutes. Students start by placing their left hand on the barre, since the first exercises are always carried out by the right side of the body, then the left. The teacher then provides a series of exercises designed to systematically warm up the muscles. Besides promoting circulation and stamina, the purpose of barre work is to practice technique that will be executed later in the class without the support of the barre.

The second part of ballet class is floor. Students leave the barre and gather at the middle of the room. From here, the class can go two ways: the teacher may instruct the class to sit down and begin a series of stretches, or they may directly move into technical combinations. These exercises can be a challenge since students no longer have the support of the barre. For example, students may be required to stand on one leg, and maintain their balance without falling over. Floor exercises are also divided into two categories: adagio, slow movements that require balance and control, and allegro, quick, precise movements that emphasize agility and speed. Students start with slow combinations that help build their strength, and progress to faster footwork.

The final section of ballet class is center. Now, students have the opportunity to perform combinations across the floor and really dance! The teacher assembles steps that accelerate into what is called grand allegro. This combination may include skips, jumps, leaps, and turns. Most adults are reluctant to perform across the floor because they are afraid they will mess up or look silly. Don’t be shy! Everyone is in the same boat, and every student is as self-conscious as their peer. It’s important to always try, because it’s the best way to build confidence.

This is the basic structure of ballet class. In an adult ballet class, the teacher will tailor combinations to best fit the class. Combinations are generally mild and critiques are kept to a minimum, if offered at all. Remember to try your best but also be cautious; don’t push yourself to do something your body is not ready for. Overexertion could lead to injury. Overall, if you attend class regularly and maintain a positive attitude, you can experience the many physical and mental benefits of an adult ballet class.

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image credit: kauiwaui
Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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