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10 Things to Know Before Starting Ballet

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10 Things to Know Before Starting Ballet

Charise Roberts
April 30, 2020
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Growing up, I was always drawn to the Ballet art form.


I would put on a leotard and tutu and dream of what it might feel like to perform the ultimate feats of elegance & grace. 


And I know I’m not alone. 


But when you’re a grown adult who still wants to learn Ballet, it might feel like your time has passed.


Fear not –– you can start learning Ballet at any time in your life!


You just need to start by knowing these 10 things below. 👇


1. Ballet’s Past & Present


When you think of Ballet, what comes to mind?


Classical music, buns, tutus, old traditions, and French words, right?


STEEZY ballet instructors demonstrating barre moves


Ballet is an old tradition –– it originated in 15th Century Italy before making its way to France where it was exclusively practiced by French courtiers and royals.


Given its history, it makes sense to want to learn Ballet to feel more sophisticated & refined!


But keep in mind that Ballet, like any art form, is evolving. 


Through social media platforms, affordable performance venues, and an increasing number of adult-friendly Ballet classes out there, Ballet is becoming more inclusive every day.



Speaking of which...


2. It’s Not Only for “Certain Girls”


Did you know that some football players take Ballet classes to improve their agility, posture, and movement? 


Or that Tupac Shakur danced as the Mouse King in Baltimore School for the Arts’ performance of The Nutcracker?


Or that there are skilled Ballerinas of every shape and size?


While Ballet was once restricted to a specific set of rich, white performers, anyone can be a Ballet dancer.


You don’t need to be feminine nor female, thin nor “soft” –– in fact, if you’ve ever met a Ballet dancer in person, you’ll notice that they have larger muscles than the average WWE fighter!


Harper Watters, a STEEZY ballet instructor, in a ballet pose on a beach
Harper Watters - STEEZY Ballet Instructor


Whatever your race, gender, sexuality, or background, remember this:


If you’re learning Ballet, you are a Ballet dancer. Period.


3. How to Determine Your Ballet Goals


Ok –– so you’re a Ballet dancer. 


But what type of Ballet dancer do you want to be? 


Before you look for a class, ask yourself:


Are you trying to find an outlet for creativity? Are you trying to find a fun new hobby? Are you trying to find a new way to exercise your body? 


Gif of woman thinking


If you want to expand your creativity, focus on the artistic aspect of Ballet by learning variations –– dramatic solo dances that allow the dancer to tell a story. 


For example, in the famous Kitri variation from Don Quixote, the main character is a feisty Spanish princess who’s chosen to marry someone against her father’s wishes.


You can connect with this character and play up the story by choosing a wedding-themed costume, using a Spanish fan as a prop, or experimenting with flirtatious facial expressions!


If you’re dancing to improve your fitness, focus on repetition & engaging your muscles as you train.


Once you have a few steps down, you can even practice them to your favorite upbeat songs in order to get your heart rate up.


Just want to have fun? Focus on finding a set of moves you really enjoy doing, and make those the core of your weekly training. 


If pliés aren’t your favorite, but you love doing tendus… you can ten-do those all day!


Check out this article to learn more about goal-setting: How to Set and Achieve Your Dance Goals


4. How to Choose the Right Ballet Class For You


There are many different types of Ballet classes out there, so it’s important to find a class that’s tailored to your goals.


Private Lessons


Gif of Lucy from 'I Love Lucy' taking a private ballet class


Pros: 

  1. You’ll get undivided attention and feedback, which will help you master techniques and level up quickly.
  2. Your instructor can tailor the classes to your specific needs –– great for dancers with limited mobility, space, or time.

Cons:

  1. Private lessons tend to be expensive.
  2. You may miss out on the social aspect of dancing. Learning with others can be rewarding and motivating!
  3. You’ll have to vet your instructor on your own. With services like Zoom, anyone can offer Ballet lessons online fairly easily, so you’ll need to spend some time searching for a great instructor and ensuring that they’re qualified.


In-Studio Classes


Gif of Mindy from 'The Mindy Project' struggling to keep up in a dance class


Pros: 

  1. In-studio classes allow you to get real-time feedback from your instructor.
  2. You can learn alongside other people and make new dance friends!


Cons:

  1. Many classes marked “beginner” still expect students to have a little bit of basic knowledge and skill. They will not explain Ballet terms or break moves down completely.
  2. In-studio classes can also be expensive! Remember, you’re paying for not only the class, but for the entire studio to keep their lights on. 
  3. These classes can be tough to find if you live in a smaller city or town. A lot of studios still prioritize kids-only classes, so you may have to travel outside of your city to find an appropriate studio that offers Ballet classes for adults.


Online Ballet Classes


STEEZY instructor, Brittany Cavaco, performing a ballet move


Pros:

  1. Recorded classes give you the opportunity to take your time and train on your own schedule. 
  2. You never have to worry about falling behind, looking awkward, or being the only adult in class.
  3. Online Ballet classes can be much more affordable –– for example, you can take unlimited programs & classes on STEEZY for $99 per year, whereas most live classes cost $15-$20 each.
  4. You can get a nice balance of private learning & socializing by joining your learning platform’s Online Community.


Cons:

  1. Even though each class will feel like a 1:1 private lesson, you may have to look to social media, such as STEEZY’s Facebook community, to get continual support from others who are sharing the learning experience.


Interested in learning at home? Check out STEEZY Studio’s “Intro to Ballet” program for total beginners!



5. Ballet Requires Determination


Once you find the perfect class, it’s important to adopt the proper mindset for your Ballet training.


Go into each class with a small, actionable goal, such as mastering a single move, or being able to stretch a little further than yesterday.


Remind yourself throughout each training session that learning these things takes time and repeated practice!


You may feel like you’re a slower learner or not as limber as you used to be, and that’s ok –– as long as you’re practicing, you’re making progress.

6. You Don’t Need a Pink Tutu


Professional Ballet dancers don’t always train in tutus. Neither should you!


Your clothes should hug your figure so you can see the lines you’re creating with your body, and they should be comfortable enough to sweat in.


STEEZY instructor, Brittany Cavaco, showcasing a pair of comfortable leggings


If you’re just starting your dance wardrobe, opt for a leotard paired with shorts or leggings, as you can find these pieces in a wide range of sizes and colors.


For example, STEEZY’s “Intro to Ballet” instructor, Brittany Cavaco, has a Ballet apparel collection with SoDanca that features inclusive sizing and comfy materials.

Tap here to see what we mean: http://stzy.co/sodanca


And if you don’t feel confident in a leotard yet, just start with athletic wear that allows you to move freely and see your body well! 

7. You DO Need the Right Shoes


Ballet shoes on the other hand, are a little more important for safely practicing ballet movements. 


Ballet requires a lot of smooth, gliding movements across the floor, but you’ll also need just enough grip to keep you from slipping.


Opt for a pair of Ballet slippers rather than pointe shoes – they’re soft & easy for beginners to wear.


You can get a pair for around $20-25 through online retailers like SoDanca as well!

8. How to Prep Your Dance Space


If you choose to learn Ballet at home, you'll need a 6x6 square foot space for practice. 


For barre, you need even less space because you're working on 1 side of your body at a time. 


When you're doing turns or variations, you might need a little more room or adjust your range of motion.


Woman preparing to take a STEEZY ballet class at home


You should also avoid carpeted areas as the resistance of the carpet can cause knee and ankle injuries.


If you don’t have hard, smooth floors inside your home, set up space in your garage or purchase affordable dance floor mats on amazon.


Watch this video for more info:



Lastly, you don’t need a barre – anything sturdy that’s slightly above your hip height is perfect. 


Many Ballet dancers use a chair, shelf, table, or windowsill. If your chair isn’t as sturdy, lean it against a wall so you’re properly supported.

9. How to Dance Ballet Safely 


Remember, Ballet is physically demanding!


It’s important to treat your body well, so you can follow along with your classes safely.


Make sure to eat balanced meals on class days, and hydrate before and after you train. 


If your class does not include stretches, warm ups, and cool downs, be sure to supplement your training session appropriately.


And, of course, learn at your own pace. 


Yes, you can expect to sweat, feel sore, and be challenged. 


But listen to your body carefully! 


Gif of man focused and listening


If you feel like a move is outside of your ability, don’t feel pressured to learn it right away. 

10. You’re Here to Have Fun


Try not to hyper-focus on perfection. This will make you forget why you started in the first place!


After each lesson, check in with yourself by asking:


What did I enjoy about my class? What made me feel excited? Proud?


You’re likely dancing because you love to dance. Make sure that you’re preserving and growing this love, not turning it into another chore or source of stress and insecurity. Dance is for you.


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We hope this helped you start your Ballet journey! 


And if you’re still looking for the perfect beginner class, head on over to STEEZY Studio.


With a free 1-week trial, you can begin our “Intro to Ballet” program & start learning the basics, step-by-step, in the comfort of home.


See you in class!


CTA button to start Intro to Ballet on STEEZY


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