Forum: Ballet / Ballet - Beginners

Learning Terminology HELP
By IsabellaRose
On Sun Oct 19, 2014 06:33 AM

I Need help learning ballet terminology. In my new class, the teacher doesnt really speak any english to us. she literally just speaks french and expects us to know it. I have a ballet dictionary. the only problem is, that I can read the definition, but I still dont really understand what it looks like in real life or how to petrform it. :/
PLEASE HELP ME!! xx

17 Replies to Learning Terminology HELP

re: Learning Terminology HELP
By majeremember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Oct 19, 2014 07:30 AM
This doesn't have everything but it does have short videos: www.abt.org . . .

Just to clarify, she does speak English? She's just using lots of French in class? Some steps it would be pretty silly to say in English.

Ask questions in class.

How long have you been dancing?
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By hummingbird
On Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:24 AM
I would also ask if there's a terminology list that goes with the syllabus you're using, I'm sure your teacher would be only too happy to help you if she knows you want to learn.
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By Freckleful49
On Sun Nov 09, 2014 12:23 PM
I would try to talk to some of your peers and see what they've done in the past, or if any of them could help you study. Also, if there is an owner or director besides your teacher you can bring up your conflict to them and see if they could help.

I hope you can figure it out! Keep Dancing.
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By SandraLAVixenmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Nov 10, 2014 03:48 PM
Is there any possibility you can find a different teacher? one willing to take the time to explain and work with beginners?

It kind of feels like things are going too fast for you, and you really are not learning anything (just wasting time and energy).

It's very important to understand the basic fundamentals and have them down firmly and perfectly before moving on and building on them. If you neglect the fundamentals you will build on bad technique that you can never clean once you get to an advanced level.
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By Serendipity42Premium member
On Mon Nov 10, 2014 09:48 PM
There's a great book by Gretchen Warren: Classical Ballet Technique.

It has a picture for almost every term in ballet. I'm sure that can help immensely.

Finding a different teacher won't help you, really, because this may be one of the better ones at your school. The more you are immersed in it, the faster you will learn it. You'll be surprised how quickly it will come once you really get into the routine.
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By hummingbird
On Tue Nov 11, 2014 07:51 AM
I agree, if you teacher is speaking French to you that's what they should do, Ballet terminology is all in French and we need to be familiar with the words to know which exercise is which. It's no good calling Battement Frappe the flicky step because the leg does a funny movement, you need to know what it's called. Of course it does help to know what that means because in a lot of cases the French word will help you with the quality of the movement, but Ballet is in French.
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By SandraLAVixenmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Nov 12, 2014 07:47 PM
I don't think we should have to learn French to a level we can converse just to be able to learn ballet.

I don't like the "you must speak language A in order to learn a subject B" approach, we need to be tolerant and accepting of other cultures, languages, and even other syllabus.

Your teacher is not bad, just maybe not the right one for you, try other teachers and maybe you might like them, or go back to your original teacher. It all depends, but no dancer learns from just one teacher for the rest of their ballet career.
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By Storm_Trouper
On Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:20 PM
Edited by Storm_Trouper (249942) on 2014-11-12 23:27:14
SandraLAVixen wrote:

Is there any possibility you can find a different teacher? one willing to take the time to explain and work with beginners?

It kind of feels like things are going too fast for you, and you really are not learning anything (just wasting time and energy).

It's very important to understand the basic fundamentals and have them down firmly and perfectly before moving on and building on them. If you neglect the fundamentals you will build on bad technique that you can never clean once you get to an advanced level.


To me, it kind of sounds like the teacher might not be aware that her approach is not all that effective for everyone, however well intentioned this teacher probably is. Are other students in your class also having a difficult go of understanding, retaining and recalling the terminologies? If that is the case, then it might be to the group's (and to the studio's) benefit to put in a group request for support with learning the applicable vocabulary. This educational support could take different forms. E.g. If there are 15 kids in the class, each one can be assigned a new term and has to come up with a way to teach and inform the other 14, in under 1 minute. Then arrive 15' early or stay 15' later and teach one another (after the teacher ensures that each assigned student knows what to teach).

Teachers are human too and can benefit from constructive feedback, though some may have a problem with this concept. Assuming that it is not only you who is having trouble, keep in mind that you are all paying for this teacher to educate you according to best practices (and properly).

If you are trained in an asian martial art, often the moves and techniques are specified in japanese / korean / chinese whatever. So this issue is not unique to the ballet world of french :) Good luck!
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By SandraLAVixenmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Nov 14, 2014 12:37 PM
The OP seems to allude to the fact that the teacher speaks very little English and is explaining the majority in French.

Ballet terminology in French and conversation/grammar in French are actually quite different. A French dancer one told me that he did not understand much of the ballet terminology even though it was in his native language, he said the verbs/nouns for ballet did not fit exactly or intuitively as to how French verbs/nouns are used.

But that aside, if we all had to learn a language fluently just to be able to learn a trade or art, we would have to learn most of the major languages. That just isn't viable/practical.
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By melissaga
On Fri Nov 14, 2014 05:35 PM
Is this your first ballet class? If so, my interpretation of what you said is that you would benefit from an absolute beginner's class. Maybe I have misinterpreted, but since you've said that you are looking things up in a ballet dictionary tells me you haven't had much experience yet.
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By Patineur
On Sat Nov 15, 2014 10:10 AM
I found the Balanchine Essays very valuable. The wonderful Suki Schorrer goes through a bunch of steps and variations in each video though her French accent can be hard to understand - whatever sounds like forte is fouette!

You can buy them but also rent them from Amazon.com for $1.99 per week which met my needs.
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By newballetdancer
On Fri Nov 28, 2014 08:31 AM
Edited by newballetdancer (271462) on 2014-11-28 08:37:13
Edited by newballetdancer (271462) on 2014-11-28 08:38:58
Edited by newballetdancer (271462) on 2014-11-28 08:40:15
I was looking up syllabi online and came across this pdf:
0361569.netsolhost.com . . .

(html not working or I'd link it)
(wow, that looks like a suspicious link! Lol, google search the school name and curriculum and it's the 5th entry on 1st page)

from the Lawrence Arts Center (a dance school in KS, USA). It's been pretty handy for me, pages 2-5. On page 2, it goes over a broad view of ballet terms you'll be learning, which you can then look up on YouTube or the ABT.org website that was listed (or books, I'm sure).

Examples: A) Positions of the feet (first, second, third, fourth, fifth. C) Body positions (croise devant, a la quatrieme devant, efface devant, ecarte, a la seconde... etc.).

This one's good:
F) Seven Movements of Ballet:
Plier (to bend) (as in "plie")
Sauter (to jump) (as in "saute")
Relever (to rise) ("releve")
etc... That way, you can understand the terms by learning a little French vocabulary root(?) words, so if a new term sounds familiar to that, you can have a gist of what a movement is going to be like.

The 3rd page looks really great: It's a circle with lines through it showing you where directions of the body are in space (in regards to croise devant or croise derriere, for instance).

And then from there it breaks it down into when this school will be teaching certain movements. Might not be your class syllabus exactly, but it should be somewhat similar. I'm sure you're starting with demi-plies, battement tendus, releve, etc.

Anyway, I thought this was a cool resource and thought I'd share.
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By Ristoncormember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:22 PM
I take French in school, so I never found learning the terminology too difficult, but I could totally understand how it would be daunting to someone unfamiliar to the language. (I'd be quite horrified if ballet terminology was in Spanish, for instance). That said, it did take some learning to get down what certain steps were.

The first piece of advice I'd give would be to learn what the meaning of step names are. For example, "rond de jambe" is "circle of the leg"; the name is quite literally what the step is. Secondly, try saying the steps in your head as you do them. That way, when your teacher says them at another time, you can picture what you were doing and recognize the step.

As with anything, it takes time. If you take another language in school, try applying the techniques you use for learning your foreign words to ballet terminology. The ABT YouTube videos are helpful too.

Good luck!
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By hummingbird
On Sun Dec 07, 2014 03:19 PM
Here's another link that I find helps my students.

michaelminn.net . . .

Ristoncor, it's interesting that you say learning French helps you, that's the experience I had too and my students who are in French immersion schools pick up the terminology so quickly I have to get them to be quiet in class to give the other kids a chance to answer :)
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By Storm_Trouper
On Sun Dec 07, 2014 03:46 PM
That's my experience too, knowing some french generally is definitely helpful.

While understanding individual nouns (jambe), verbs (plier), adjectives (derriere) and adverbs (en l'air) where things really start to become challenging (even if you speak non-ballet french) is when the separate terms are combined and blended into descriptive expressions and phrases, i.e. learning to make ballet talk or 'speaking in ballet', and comprehending same.

Because french ballet technical terms are intermingled with english (or conversational spanish, russian, italian, chinese etc. i.e. the language of instruction or presentation) what we end up with is a kind of strange pidgin language, where french verbs like plier are transformed into nouns and vice versa. (We do this in english too. For example, the noun impact is used verbally as in 'She is impacting upon us' instead of 'She is making an impact upon us.' language and communication being dynamic.

To learn and then be able to recall and use the new terms at wil,l you need to say them aloud often (quietly to yourself or under your breath, repeatedly) so as to engage more language functions of your brain. Just reading, thinking and hearing the terms will only get you so far I believe. Writing out choreo and combos can also be a helpful way to speed learning.
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By portdebras
On Tue Dec 09, 2014 07:50 AM
the terminology of ballet is on french language. sure!
the ballet must be done and learned on french language if you want make it!
is not hard to help .

there are more vocabulary of ballet on internet library.
This is mandatory for you, if you want make dance everywhere!
re: Learning Terminology HELP
By gabbyballet
On Sat Jun 16, 2018 01:46 AM
You sound like a beginner. I've been dancing for 9 years, and it's very easy to understand my dance teacher. Keep in mind, it's essential to know the French names.

ReplySendWatch

Powered by XP Experience Server.
Copyright ©1999-2019 XP.COM, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
XL
LG
MD
SM
XS
XL
LG
MD
SM
XS