Let me preface this post by saying that I am totally looking for your input here, please, feel more than welcome to throw your thoughts and experiences at me.
So in the last couple of weeks I’ve worked up some bravery and tried a bunch of new ballet classes, meaning new studios and new teachers. Let me remind you that this was not a successful thing for me in the past. Somehow I found every version of “bad” teacher and honestly got a little scarred from that. When I found my awesome ballet teacher, I think I kind of attached. That has not been entirely a bad thing because his methodology is totally working for me, I’ve come so far in just last year with him that I stand amazed and I’m not that easy to impress 😉 I’ve watched other people come to his class – trepidatious, unsure and then just come alive and I’ve watched the classes go from being a group of adult dance students to become a group of good friends. It’s not just ballet because I have experienced ballet classes that have left me sad, discouraged and physically ill. My awesome ballet teacher creates and nurtures this wonderful ballet environment. Plus I am a big believer in loyalty.
But I have challenged to try some new teaching methods mostly to get out of my comfort zone and get used to a occassional change in my ballet scenery. Mostly so that when I go out-of-town, which can be a lot, I can feel comfortable finding and going to new classes. So that’s what I’ve been doing, I’m not replacing my current line up of classes with my awesome ballet teacher, I’m supplementing with a few additional classes.
Here is where I hit a conundrum… the classes I tried where “Basic.” They were not difficult at all. Don’t get me wrong, I know that each and every class no matter how slow is an opportunity to learn and each and every class I’m still working on the basics. And I enjoyed them, the teachers were nice and competent and I did get some good corrections… but am I not challenging myself enough by not moving up in difficulty? My current lineup of classes include (1) Intermediate Beginner, (3) Advanced Beginner, and (1) Intermediate all with my ABT. Am I chickening out by taking Basic classes elsewhere and is that actually holding me back? A lot of people who I’ve talked to who take Beginner level classes elsewhere have years of training behind them. I take a lot of classes a week now but I’m not going to kid myself that doesn’t add up to years of training, plus I’m just not a natural at anything… I don’t have great feet or great lines, I’m not naturally flexible and my sense of balance sucks bad. I’ve got two days where I’ve got the option to take a “Basic” class or a more advanced “Beginner” class, so… what do you think?
I say if you’re taking intermediate with your teacher now, definitely go for AT LEAST adv. beginner! This is a very tricky transition for all adult students because open classes aren’t designed for progression the same way kids’ classes are. As an adult student, it’s up to you to take your dancing into your own hands and sometimes you just have to jump in it, have no clue what you’re doing, feel a little embarrassed, but GIVE yourself that chance to learn. There’s even a silver lining to doing this because then a good teacher can catch faults before they become bad habits, thus helping you to build a good foundation.
I often see that it’s the apprehensive people that need the push. The fact that you’re thinking about it is a good sign that indicates readiness. And don’t you think for a minute that if you visit Seattle I’m letting you get away with adv. beg! You’re coming to intermediate/adv with me!
HAHAHA! Don’t scare me away from coming to visit you, Steve! My teacher wants me to move forward, I can’t help but just see my own limitations and my own faults and thinking constantly that I’m really really bad. It’s funny that when I don’t have confidence in myself, I rely on the confidence that my Awesome Ballet Teacher has in me and use that to help me through.
Harder class it is!
Yay! Trust me, you’ll learn so much, not just in terms of ballet but more about yourself! I actually didn’t progress as steadily as I should have. I took Ballet I several times, but my last quarter of school decided I wanted to minor in dance, and had to cram almost every credit in my schedule to do it, and Ballet III/IV had to be a part of that because I needed upper level technique course work. I did take Ballet II at the same time, which helped a little, but I was still an absolute trainwreck…but I learned to cope. I wrote down combinations that befuddled me and marked them on my own until my body could make sense of them and slowly the puzzle pieces started coming together. I graduated that quarter, but it was because of that class that I realized something crucial–I wasn’t finished.
A few rocky years later (for many different reasons) and here I am! And my teacher, Jessica Zeller, from that first III/IV class? I consider her to be the most influential in my education. I feel fortunate to have had many wonderful teachers, but I attribute a great deal of my personal successes to her and that class!
Last night my Awesome Ballet Teacher said that I need to get out of my comfort zone more often. He wants me to start working on choreographed phrases. sweet baby jezuz, what have I gotten myself into!?!?!
Thanks, Steve, your input really helps. Sometimes you sort of know what to do, but it helps to hear it from someone else who has been there, you know?!
Honestly I think it all depends on the class. I have one “Basic” class that is actually more difficult than one of my “Beginning” classes – it all depends on the teacher and the general ability level of the students in the class. Sometimes it is nice to have an “easy” class because it forces me to make room in my brain to REALLY focus on form rather than just try to remember the combination. Sometimes I’m more sore from those classes than my more advanced beginner classes. And other times, my brain really needs the challenge of new steps, higher extensions, and quicker footwork.
So, to answer your question, I think you should try both and see which one feeds your specific needs more. As you travel, you’ll probably run into the same conundrum – not all classes are created equal 🙂
Thanks! I’m definitely not going by the name of the class but the experiences that I’ve had in the classes. I enjoy a “slow” class where I can really focus on technique, since that is one of my favorite things to do but I really want to push forward and get better. I’m just not sure what is the best thing to do. I’ve got a good variety of classes right now though and to be perfectly honest, the more I think about it, one additional class isn’t going to tip the scales one way or the other. And truly, the more I think about it, I really need to work on quicker footwork and pushing myself in center, so the more advanced class is probably in order. Thanks for listening to be ramble! 😀
Have confidence & take the more advanced class. It’s good to challenge oneself, and also good to go to a range of classes at different standards. Fortunately I’ve not found too much bad teaching to put me off, but even if you have, remember you are you and that is a very good thing to be – don’t let other people pull you down.
Thank you so much, Anne! I will take courage and push forward!
If Basic isn’t challenging (and it sounds like you’re aware of it!), then I say go for Beginner. Any new class or studio or teacher will be disorienting at first, but that’s just how it is. I love how my current teacher starts most classes saying, “If you’re new, you may be lost at first, but that’s OK!”
It’s like me, I’m kind of in a rut… I dropped into another studio’s Advanced Beginner once a while back and got a bit scared away (classes with the same level name are not created equal!), but sometime this summer I’m going back. There, I’ve said it. 🙂
By the way I’ve done the out-of-town drop-in class thing just twice now (both in So Cal) and it can be fun! At first it was a little scary for me, but depending on the teacher, you get kudos for such initiative! I love the feeling of being able to (theoretically!) go anywhere in the world and share the same language of ballet class.
I want to push forward and sometimes its hard to figure out what is really the best way to do that. Its very disorienting to go to a new studio/teacher but I definitely appreciate that challenge as practice for taking new classes out of town.
I think my Awesome Ballet Teacher may have come up with the solution – I’m telling you, the man has this crazy 6th sense!!! he suggested to a ballet class pal and I that a few of us get together to do semi-privates that focus 100% on center, on choreographed work! I think this might be exactly what I need!!!
Let’s go, Jeff, let’s challenge ourselves this summer!