Ballet Class for Beginners

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Ready for Ballet Class

Ready for ballet class
Tracy Wicklund

Once you have decided that you really want to learn ballet, you will need to prepare for your very first ballet lesson. Although you will probably have asked your new ballet instructor about proper ballet attire, you most likely will need to wear a pair of pink tights and a leotard, and a pair of leather or canvas ballet slippers. Your hair should be placed neatly on your head in a ballerina bun. You should not be wearing any jewelry. You should be carrying a ballet bag packed with a few neccesities such as bottled water and band-aids.

Ballet classes are held in schools and studios throughout the world. Although every school and studio is different, there are two things you can expect to see: a bare floor and a ballet barre. Most ballet studios have large mirrors on the walls, and some have pianos. Make sure you show up earlier than your scheduled class time to allow yourself time to prepare for class. When the ballet instructor calls you into the studio, quietly enter the room and find a space to stand. You are now ready for your first ballet lesson to begin.

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Stretch and Warm Up

Stretch and warm up
Tracy wicklund

Most dancers like to arrive at their ballet class a little bit early, so they have a few minutes to warm up on their own. Some ballet instructors encourage light stretching before class, but start the class at the barre.

Once you arrive at the studio, slip on your ballet shoes and find a spot to stretch. Try to gently stretch the major muscle groups of your body, paying careful attention to your legs and hips. Try a few stretches on the floor, including the stretches shown in this straddle stretch routine.

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Basic Barre

Barre work
Tracy Wicklund

Almost every ballet class you will ever take will begin at the barre. Exercises performed at the barre are designed to warm up your body, strengthen your muscles and improve your balance. Barre work helps you create a strong foundation on which to build all of your ballet steps and movements.

Try to focus and concentrate on each step you perform at the barre. Take a peek at this basic barre routine to get an idea of what to expect.

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Centre Work

Centre work
Tracy Wicklund

After enough exercises have been performed at the barre to warm up your body, your ballet instructor will instruct you to move to the center of the room for "centre work." Centre work usually begins with port de bras, or carriage of the arms. During port de bras, you will learn how to make your arm movements flow and coordinate the movements with your head and body.

While practicing the arm positions of ballet, try to make each movement flow smoothly from one pose to the next. Never jerk your arms or hurry between movements...strive for smooth continuity.

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Adage

Arabesque
Tracy Wicklund
The next portion of centre work will probably be the adage portion. Your ballet instructor will guide you through a series of slow movements to help you learn to control your balance and develop poise.
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Allegro

Ballet jumps
Tracy Wicklund
Another part of the centre work portion of a ballet class is referred to as allegro. Allegro is an Italian musical term that means "quick and lively."

During allegro, your ballet instructor will lead you through a series of quicker movements, including several small jumps and turns, followed by larger jumps and leaps (grand allegro.)

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Pirouettes

Pirouette
Tracy Wicklund

Most ballet instructors like to take a little time during the class for students to practice pirouettes. Pirouettes are turns or spins performed on one leg.

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Reverence

Reverence
Tracy Wicklund

Every ballet class ends with reverence, when students curtsey or bow to show their respect to the teacher and pianist (if present.) Reverence usually includes a series of bows, curtsies, and ports de bras. It is a way of celebrating and maintaining the ballet traditions of elegance and respect.