5 Tips For New Adult Ballet Students

by | Jun 8, 2015 | Just Beginning, TIPS

If you’ve never taken ballet class before, it can seem intimidating. Don’t let your novice status hold you back on your first day. Here are 5 tips to get you in the swing of things.

1. Feet first

If you’re not ready to put on a leotard, at least slip into the correct footwear. Invest the 20 minutes and $20 to get professionally fitted for a brand new pair of ballet shoes. Your feet work hard in class and require proper care. You can wear full-sole, or split-sole, a popular option among many for its arch-enhancing quality. Socks and bare feet are not recommended; not only is it disrespectful to the art form, but it can also lead to injury.

2. Follow the leader

Rear view of young female ballet dancer standing by handrail in rehearsal room

If you’ve never done a plié in your life, do not stand at either end of the barre! These spots should be reserved for existing classmates, and definitely the more advanced. Once you take your spot behind one of these students, follow their lead. Of course, you want to pay attention and develop listening skills so you can perform the teacher’s instructions without the crutch of watching your peer. However, it is not uncommon for newbies to take advantage of these more seasoned classmates to help show them how it’s done.

3. Practice division

Young dancers are learning - they're all in a line trying to repeat what the instructor has shown them.

No, it’s not as complicated as algebra – but use your time in the center wisely. Sure, you can just practice the combination when it’s your turn, but there are ways to increase your chances of improvement. Let’s say it’s time to perform combination across the floor, and the teacher has divided the class into two groups. Volunteer to go in the first group. Sound too scary for your first day? Then, head to the back of the line, and resolve to go with both groups. This way, you double up on your training, without feeling like you’re the center of attention. (Sometimes, this may be difficult to pull off if the combinations are fast and you don’t have time to return for the second group. Use discretion and ask your teacher when you can try this.)

4. Bring water

Stainless steel bottle on white background with clip.

Those of us who have been around for a while have all seen it: the empty-handed newcomer gasping for breath and desperate for water. Maybe you don’t work up a sweat as much as others, but you still need to stay hydrated. If you don’t like the taste of room temperature water, avoid bringing commercial bottled water, which can lose its frosty appeal over the course of class. Instead, consider freezing water in a durable, high-grade, BPA-free stainless steel water bottle prior to class. Place it by your feet at the barre, and bend down periodically throughout class for a refreshing sip to keep yourself hydrated.

5. Get a post-class massage

Beautiful female modern jazz contemporary style dancer isolated on a white background. Dancer is wearing a blue leotard black skirt and leg warmers and is holding her injured knee.

So, you finished your first class, and the next day – BOOM! – you’re sidelined by tight calves, sore thighs, and you have more muscles in your butt than you knew existed. Truth is, no matter how well you stretched, or how fit you are, ballet is an intense workout, and you will most likely be hobbling the day after. Don’t let this be a deterrent. If you can afford to do so, get a professional swedish massage (not deep tissue) as soon as possible. It will soothe your aches and pains, and prepare you for future classes.

There’s no need to feel like an outsider on your first day. With this basic protocol, you can have a successful first class as an adult ballet student.

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