Lifestyle

On Your Own

Photo by Gwyneth Muller

Ever been injured and had to figure out how to get back into shape? Are you one of those dancers who teachers ignore? Maybe you are a student who isn’t getting enough classes in a week to push your dancing to a professional level. Whatever your circumstances may be, often times you are left to fend for yourself. Here are some things that might help when this happens.

Supplement your dancng. Pilates, yoga, cardio, weight training… these are ALL beneficial to dancers. Get on some sort of program or routine to help your body get stronger. Pilates helps strengthen your muscles without adding bulk and lengthens them simultaneously. I noticed fast and drastic improvement when I started practicing pilates. Also, in a future post, I will be giving ballet specific exercises with pictures that can really benefit your dancing. As far as cardio goes, I prefer the elliptical. I generally try to do 30-45 minutes whenever I can. When I was preparing to dance Swan Lake, I would get on the elliptical and go through the ballet doing the arms. As silly as it sounds (and as weird as I might have looked) my stamina shot through the roof. When I got onstage, I was barely tired. Many other dancers like swimming and sometimes running as other cardio options. The most important thing however is to monitor yourself. If you are coming back from an injury, DO NOT do too much too fast. You could end up making yourself worse! Just listen to your body and start slowly.

A second problem a dancer might be having is feeling like you are not seen. If it seems like the teacher is ignoring you, the first step is to get brave and talk to them. Listen to what they have to say. Maybe they will mention one thing that could make all the difference. If you don’t get anything out of talking to them, learn to be your own teacher. Each class, work on something specific- “Today I will focus on my alignment” or “I am going to work on my musicality”. Take everyone else’s correction as your own. Be aware of what your muscles are doing, and if something isn’t working, really think about what you may be doing wrong. Don’t just give up. If you feel you are not getting enough classes, one thing that is never wrong is to ask your school if you may also take a LOWER level class. Never ask to take higher- that can be misinterpreted and might end up coming back to bite you. By taking a lower level, you can REALLY focus on alignment, placement, correct technique, and thus improve drastically. If your school does not allow you to take extra classes, consider looking for an additional school in your city. This might be a bit controversial, but it is YOUR career. This happened to me. Before I went to the School of American Ballet, I was only getting 5 classes a week, so I went to another school in my area for an extra 3. My dancing got so much better, and thus prepared me for SAB. I know some schools frown upon this idea, but if they are only offering 4 classes a week, that is not enough to get you to a professional level. To be safe, FIRST, ask if you can take lower levels. Only then seek classes elsewhere.

I will be posting more detailed exercises and tips for improvement soon. But for now, just think about this- if you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten. So push yourself! :-)

Categories: Lifestyle

21 replies »

    • My husband made a barre for my daughter and her ballet teacher said it should be about the same height as the bottom of the dancer’s rib cage. Of course in a studio you can’t have one barre that fits everyone perfectly, but it’s OK if it’s a little higher or lower than the “optimal” height, but if you are buying or making one for personal use you can use that as a guideline.

    • I didn’t want to dance anymore. Years later, in jr. high, I reuerntd to dancing but at a different studio. This time it was much worse. Girls were no longer girls but young women. With eating disorders. So skinny and frail, dancing all of their lives, bending ever which way with little effort… I felt uncomfortable once more. I didn’t last the whole year and left class again because the stress and pressure from their stares and how unwelcome they made me feel honestly caused me great anxiety and sickness. I hope the best for all of these children, but I hope that they can turn their brains off from the awful people I’m sure they encounter. I hope that if they don’t want it anymore they walk away and thrive elsewhere. I wish I could return to dancing but it will probably never happen. Perhaps when I am rich and I can have my own private lessons. (:

  1. Thank you! You innspiers me and motivates me every day! Although I do more jazz and contemporary than ballet your advices help a lot :)

  2. Kathryn love the help that you provide to other dancers and the industry. You are so refreshing. My daughter has just be accepted into the Australian Ballet School Interstate Program, she is 12, so we will be looking for all the good advice we can get our hands on. Thank you again. Maria.

    • Dianne-Yes, the little dresess were very expensive. It is a high fashion area and children are included. I didn’t even price the clothing. The name of the shop is Chocolate and Tartines-or maybe the other way around. Linda

    • I almost made it as a preafssionol dancer, but gave up in my late teens after realising I was not good enough for other than to be a chorus girl in a distant province. So I became an architect instead, but I still LOVE ballet and watching documents and films like this. They always make me cry though, not for jealousy but for appreciation. All the years of hard work were not wasted anyway; I’ve gained 25kg since my dancing days and definately do not look like a ballerina, but the posture I have kept to this day, and every now and then people comment on it, guessing I have spent some time practicing it in my youth :)Katia

  3. Thank you so much for the positive posts! They really inspire me. I do ballet dancing and i have achilles tendinitis so im not as strong as i used to be. These posts really help me stay positive about the injury!

  4. Fortunatetly, I am not anymore ignored by my teachers, only in intensive courses where they are usually very demanding. But I totally agrre with trying a lower level, I did that, it really helps puting everything in place again. But, it is impossible for me to attend more than five classes a week, I only go to 4 actually. I’m studying at university which makes impossible to work for ballet at a professional level. But, as I cannot go to any more classes, I work out a lot at home, stretching mainly, but also turn out, feet flexibility, tension release, abs etc. That will do too right, or is it really need a school? I dance ballet for many years, I know the exercises done in workout class, what I need to do and how, and what I need to start the class ready and not stiff. Classes always feel great obviously, and one works more and seriously than at home, but I guess I can still improve at home. What do you think?

  5. Kathryne Morgan, you are so inspirational! I love this post so much! I guess my question is how many pointe classes a week (or at home pointe work practice) you should do to prepare for a pre-professional school or ballet company?

    • Thank you so much! I would do a little pointe work everyday. Even just relevees are fine. Then I would also do 1-2 pointe classes a week. That is for a ballet school. For a company, you need to be doing all of you classes on pointe every day. All the best!

  6. Thank you so much, I am not a professional but I use to train ballet at least 10 hours a week. I have to go back after 2 months being busy moving to Istanbul you can’t imagine how this helps !!!! :-) Yeap ! I AM BACK !!! ;-)

  7. Hi Kathryn, I am over 50 ( now a ballet teacher); do you have any diet advice, etc? I do pilates at home, but it isn’t enough.
    Thanks!

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