Wanted: a ballet teacher, preferably one who wants to teach adult beginners. Mandatory: giving a damn about adult beginners (at least occasionally) and (at least occasionally) giving corrections and making sure that no one hurts himself/herself.
In ballet a good ballet teacher can make or break your “adult beginner career”. It’s the sad truth, but there is no other way to learn ballet other than by doing it. No amount of books or videos will equal the correction of an experienced former dancer/ballet teacher. A good teacher will encourage the adult beginner, correct them and be patient when their adult bodies don’t bend to the strict requirements of ballet. When I started out in adult ballet, I used to think that most adult ballet instructors wanted to teach adult beginners, but as I’ve been exposed to more and more classes with different instructors, I’ve noticed that this is not always the case.
Some just don’t think adults should dance ballet. I honestly don’t care what teachers think about me or my wobbly pirouettes in private, but I do care whether they correct my mistakes. A while ago, I took a class with a wonderful teacher. He was extremely knowledgeable, enthusiastic and clearly a former pro. But he didn’t really care about sickled ankles and droopy elbows. Ignoring droopy elbows I can forgive, but ignoring sickled ankles is dangerous! Especially when every class is finished off with a fast choreography involving multiple pique turns and jumps.
A few years ago I did come across an Awesome Ballet Teacher (term courtesy of Bead109). Her name was G and she taught at the Big Dance School in the Small Northern Country where I grew up. What most struck about her teaching style was the personal relationship she developed with each student. Before class, she took five minutes to learn everyone’s name and ballet background. During class, she was never afraid to correct a student hands on, whether it be the ankles, the toes, the back or the position of the leg. She didn’t give out praise lavishly, but she always maintained that progress was possible as long as one worked hard. And it was okay to fail. It was okay to fall and get up.
G and all other Awesome Ballet Teachers are the people that make you love ballet, wait anxiously for every class and try your best at every exercise! If you haven’t found you Awesome Ballet Teacher, don’t settle, but keep looking. Having a great teacher can make ballet into a lifestyle instead of “just a hobby”.
Another ballet blogger shares her Awesome Ballet Teacher experience: