How To Survive A Group Class: Ballet Edition

Rule Number One, the golden rule, when attending any dance group class: Be Humble. I don’t care if you attended the Joffrey, I don’t care if you are passing through with the Bolshoi and decided to pop in. Be humble or get out of the class. You’ve chosen to take the group class so respect the class and be a part of it. Maintain your humility and you will get much more out of the group class then you ever thought possible. Added bonus people will like you more. No one likes a know it all.

Rule Number Two, Learn To Read The Room. Sometimes it’s all about showing up, shutting up and playing ball. I really don’t care about your job or your kids in the middle of tondu’s. Often times people taking the class are trying to escape the doldrums of their lives not be sucked into whatever yours are. They have checked their baggage at the door, do the same.

Rule Number Three, Dress The Part. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Please check what you are wearing before you leave home for full functional coverage. Do all the checks in the mirror with the dance moves that you would do in class. I’m sure your ass is spectacular but the person behind you didn’t pay to see it when they got up this morning. I’m only advocating coverage. How you present yourself only reflects on you in the long run.

Rule Number Four, Be Aware Of Your Dance Space. As someone who is acutely aware of injury I can not stress this enough. Knowing where you on the floor are in conjunction with others, especially when executing the steps in a grand allegro, is just smart. Knocking into people is not cool. Not allowing other dancers to expand their full strides is not cool. Accidents happen but they can be greatly minimized if you are aware of your dance space. Assess your level of dance in the group and try to position yourself with someone of your dance ability accordingly. Getting into another dancers space is dangerous, for them and you.

Rule Number Five, Step Up. I know that I have just stated that the golden rule is to be humble, but there are times when knowledge of dance, humility and insecurity are a lethal mix. Being realistic of your abilities while staying humble does not mean pushing the new dancer in class to the front lines, especially if you already know what is coming up. Yes, there are dancers that will take the challenge and will rise to it but if there is a dancer who is clearly uncomfortable with being in the front line, then step up. It is just ridiculous to have able bodies with knowledge of the class huddling in the back because it will only make you look like you are playing head games.

Rule Number Six, No Head Games. Women are amazing at this. The violence that can be done on a mental level is mesmerizing. There is no place for this in a group class. A normally mundane off-handed comment with the right inflection combined with right timing can act as a punch in the gut. Even if you hate this dancer and they hate you more, do not ask a dancer to go in front of you in a run and then ask them to move up and away from you. If you wanted to position yourself with more space then you should have gone to the front in the first place. That sort of crap is just that; utter crap. If you don’t know the person, you have no idea how they are going to react and you might as well have stuck your foot out and tripped them. Check the hate at the door and just take the class. You will feel better about life in general if you can do this.

Rule Number Seven, Show Respect. Be aware of where you are in the rotation. Sometimes you can’t always pair yourself up with the person that you would like to go with. That doesn’t mean you can’t show the person that you are going with the same respect. I don’t care if this person is new to the class, not as good a dancer as you, a better dancer then you or just someone you think is a b****. You checked all of it at the door so no eye rolling, no head games. Step up if the person that you are dancing with isn’t as experienced as you, be aware of your dance space, have a little humility and respect another dancers learning curve. (Side note, other dancers will respect you more when you do.)

About TheSpinningDancer

I am a follower of the Church of Dance. Dream Bunnies and Mourning Doves follow me at night.
This entry was posted in ballet, ballroom, ballroom dance, dance, lindy hop, students, swing dance, teachers, teaching, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How To Survive A Group Class: Ballet Edition

  1. These rules are great. Putting ‘be humble’ at number one is awesome of you 🙂

    Can I add a rule?

    The occasional smile, cheeriness and (appropriately timed) bit of humour can do wonders for the general atmosphere and really raise energy and attentiveness levels, especially in an evening class after a long stressful day at work.

    Notice when someone else in a class makes a remark (between exercises or when stretching etc) which lifts your spirits during an ‘off day’ and remember to return the favour and lift everyone else’s spirits when you are having a particularly ‘on day’.

    IMHO a high energy, ‘spirited class’ is a group effort and not just the job of the teacher and pianist.

    Feel good, dance better 🙂

  2. All very well put! You KNOW I love this post! Have already posted to my FB wall and would love to link on my ballet blog…

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