Learn Ballet

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Why Learn Ballet?

Ballerina
Photodisc / Getty Images

Ballet lessons are a wonderful way for both kids and adults to reap the health benefits of dance as well as learn self-discipline and body control. Anyone can enjoy the beauty and grace of ballet dancing, regardless of age, body size or fitness level.

Even if you've never stepped foot into a ballet studio, these lessons will enable you to explore the world of ballet as an absolute beginner. You will be introduced to everything beginners want to know about ballet, including the first steps and basic positions. Let's get dancing!

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Beginner Ballet Shoes

Ballet shoe
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If you're going to learn ballet, you'll need to buy a pair of ballet shoes. Ballet shoes are soft, snug-fitting slippers made of leather or canvas designed to enhance your technique as well as protect your feet and ankles. Many people say that a ballet shoe should fit the foot "like a glove." Although the shoe should fit quite snugly, be careful not to buy them too small. There should be sufficient room in the shoe for moving the toes.

Make sure you don't confuse flat ballet shoes with pointe shoes, special ballet shoes that allow a dancer to literally dance on the tips of the toes. Ballet dancers start on flat feet and learn their exercises before advancing to pointe shoes.

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Basic Ballet Leotard

Ballet leotard
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To learn ballet, you will need to wear a leotard, a skin-tight one-piece garments that covers your torso but leaves your legs free. Leotards are available in a variety of styles, including long-sleeved, short-sleeved, sleeveless tanks, halters and camisoles. Popular brands include Capezio, Bloch, M. Stevens and Natalie.

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Ballet Tights

Tights
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For ballet, you'll need a pair of tights to wear under your leotard. Tights fit snugly on the legs, giving ballet dancers a neat and tidy appearance as well an elongated look. Ballet tights are available in many colors and styles, including footless, convertible or footed varieties.

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Neat and Tidy Hair for Ballet

Ballet bun
Tracy Wicklund

Have you ever seen a ballerina with messy hair? When ballet dancing, a neat appearance will make your technique look cleaner and help you keep your mind on your dancing. Most ballet dancers prefer to wear their hair in a tight bun, a simple hairstyle that is easy to create and fun to wear.

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Ballet Barre

Barre
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Essential to every ballet class, a ballet barre is a stationary handrail that a dancer holds onto lightly for balance. A barre can be used for stretching and basic barre exercises. In a ballet studio, barres can be portable or mounted onto walls.

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Ballet Foot Positions

First position
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One of the first things you should learn in ballet are the five basic foot posiions. The five basic positions of the feet in ballet are the foundation of every other step in classical ballet. The basic positions relate to the proper placement of the feet on the floor. Every movement and pose in ballet begins and ends with one of the five basic positions.

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Ballet Arm Positions

Ballet arm position
Andersen Ross / Getty Images

Every ballet step originates from one of the five basic feet positions of ballet. There are also five basic positions of the arms in ballet. (Both the names and actual positions vary based on method.) Look into a mirror and practice the basic arm positions. Be sure to stretch your arms and keep your shoulders down.

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Stretching for Ballet

Stretch forward
Altrendo Images / Stretching

All ballet dancers must be flexible. To achieve maximum flexibility, be sure to stretch every single day. In a ballet class, dancers are led through a series of stretches at the barre.

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Pointed Feet

Pointed foot
Photodisc / Getty Images

Beautifully pointed feet are a goal of all ballet dancers. The secret to obtaining a great point lies in the instep of your foot, the top part between your ankle and your toes. A beautiful point has an exaggerated instep...it sticks up high when your foot is pointed.

Some dancers are blessed with the ability to point their feet correctly without much effort. Dancers with longer feet or thinner ankles appear to have prettier pointed feet.