Forum: Ballet / Ballet - Adult Dancers

Really struggling with my ballet - can anyone help?
By andiepasdedeux
On Fri Mar 31, 2017 06:06 AM

Hi everyone, I'm a newbie here. I'm age 43 and only started ballet a couple of years ago. After doing an informal class for a while, I decided I wanted to take exams, so I joined a different school last summer and started working towards my IDTA grade one ballet exam.

All started well and I'd all but mastered basic moves such as the warm-up, plies, foot exercise, grand degages, grand battement and positions of the arms - so the simpler moves.

Then my teacher left, we took a month off for Christmas and I started back in the new year with a new teacher, who's fabulous but very different from the previous one.

Since then, I've really struggled. We had a lesson about a month ago where I literally couldn't put a foot wrong - everything was perfect and I walked out feeling elated.

But before then and since, I've made so many mistakes and just end up feeling really frustrated at the end. I'm paying £30 for an hour-long private session, so it's not cheap - and I don't want to feel frustrated at the end.

Sometimes I'll forget the moves, or get things in the wrong order. Other times, I know what to do in my head, but my body just won't do what my head says!

So is there anything I can do? Is it all practise, practise, practise, or is there anything else?

I do practise about an hour a week - on the day before my lesson.

I love ballet when I get it right - it makes me feel like I could fly. But that's all too rare. How do I get that feeling more often, instead of the endless frustration.

Many thanks, Andie xxx

4 Replies to Really struggling with my ballet - can anyone help?

re: Really struggling with my ballet - can anyone help?
By SarahdncrPremium member
On Sat Apr 01, 2017 07:10 AM
Ms., Andi--There is one thing I have always continually thought/said to others about us adults who are working towards learning ballet.--- Ad that is, because we, with our adult minds, we tend to over-analyse each and every step and/or combination that we do in class,--because we want it to be perfect and show our teacher's that we are really trying.

Keep in mind, we (self-consious) adults are trying to teach our adult bodies muscle memory skills we only started learning in adulthood (and in your case older adulthood), while we see so many young adult dancer's who the same material comes so easily too. Only difference is they have been doing it since they were little kids, and their brains were not really wired at that time to really think deeply/critically about what they were doing---that's why the young kids have so much fun with it.

At times, I have gotten as fustrated as you have with your progress. I have a few other adult ballet friends I keep in contact with and they all,..really all of us, lament on the same thing.

I am really not experienced enough (I am surely no teacher), to really tell you precisely what you are doing wrong, but I do have three suggestions for you.

1.) Do speak with your teacher and confide in them the issues you are having and see what they suggest. Remember they are the Pro's from Dover and you are paying them good coin for their time to teach,...(and hopefully work/coach) you.

2.) Maybe you need to cut back on your practices a bit. take a bit of time during the week to do something else that is pleasent.

3.) But most importantly of all, when at your class or privates,--just go and have fun with it! Remember at our ages(s) we are doing this for ourselves/us,...and no one else. Why try to kill yourself over something that you love and just want to enjoy doing. So go at it well, but just go with with music,..get lost in it, and be like you described in your last sentence of your note.

I know, way easier said than done, esp. for art form and professional endevor for some (and certainly a hobby for us) that demands perfection and idealization of the perfect form for the movements.

Probably not the greatest advice, but I do hope it helps. Good luck with getting your first set of exams out of the way!!
re: Really struggling with my ballet - can anyone help?
By SilverGreyDancermember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:53 PM

I'm all for getting it correct. but not at the expense of frustration. Try to relax and yes at 43 your mind doesn't work as well as a 15 year old. I'm 65! I can be frustrating not so execute the combination correctly. Privates Well I avoid them just for that reason. Although I do end up with a number of them when other class members don't show up. Think of ballet class as a practice, not a performance, that may help. Good luck in your training.
re: Really struggling with my ballet - can anyone help?
By Guyenne
On Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:50 AM
Couple thoughts:
1. See if shorter more frequent home practice helps. So something like 15min every other day instead of an hour once a week
2. Try a different teacher or different class type (semi-private or group, etc). Or ask this teacher about using some of the things that worked well for you with your fall term teacher.
3. Try to read or watch ballet technique tips, see if that reinforcement helps.
re: Really struggling with my ballet - can anyone help?
By CinderEmma
On Sat Apr 08, 2017 05:32 AM
I definately agree with Guyenne's point about practicing for smaller intervals over greater stretches of time instead of lumping practice time all into one session. I was always taught that it isn't necessarily all about how MUCH one practices, but how OFTEN.
The best time to practice what you've learned from ballet class is right after class is over (or the following day) because that's when the new informaion is still fresh in your mind. If you wait too long afer a dance class to practice, then you will have most likely forgotten most of what you had learned and you will end up practicing mistakes over and over again instead of what you really want to practice.

The brain's memory works just like a muscle. The MORE OFTEN you think/perform a series of steps, (even if it is just for a few minutes at a time,) the better you will perform them.


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