Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Applying Different Techniques

One of the advantages of taking ballet from many different teachers is learning that there is more than one way of doing things—and that it is good to be accommodating. If you’re in a class where the teacher likes you to brush the floor on a frappé, then you brush the floor with no questions asked. Some other variations on a frappé include wrapping the foot or flexing the foot at cou de pied prior to striking the floor.

Throughout a dance class you will see subtle (or not-so-subtle) differences between teachers. Some like you to extend the leg 90° à la seconde before executing a pirouette en dedans; others just want you to bring the foot directly to the knee. Some would like to see your leg as high as it can go in adagio at the expense of alignment; others would rather see your leg lower, using proper alignment. Some teachers are very particular about the port de bras they set for a combination while others are not so picky and would rather see you adding batterie or going for triple and quadruple pirouettes.

You really need to be sensitive to the expectations of the teacher in ballet. And as a teacher, it is important to make your expectations clear. I always found myself getting more attention from the teacher if I gave him or her exactly what they were looking for, rather than sticking strictly to my own goals. Of course, you can work on your goals within what the teacher is asking, but most teachers follow a plan of action and have a reason for asking you to do things a certain way. And even if they don’t, it isn’t your job to question their tactics!

I went to a class when I moved to a new area, and the teacher’s philosophy was one I’d never encountered before (and didn’t agree with at all). She wanted us to stand at the barre in first position, and when we moved into tendu we weren’t to shift our weight onto the supporting leg at all. We were to stay exactly as we’d been in first position. I was falling all over the place and was sore for several days, but I did my best to do as she asked. I wish I could say I got a job with her company, but that didn’t happen in this case. J

Learning to deliver what is asked of you will be a great asset when you go to an audition, too. The audition teacher may throw in something just to see how well you follow directions. They will tend to be more impressed with the people who do as they say, rather than those who show off with extra beats or pirouettes.


  1. This is excellent! Something I tell my students all the time, but it might be reinforced by reading this! I'm sharing this blog on my FB page! Thanks!