How to be a really good ballet dancer
How to Be the Best Ballet Dancer in Your Class
If only there were a magical potion that you could take and be the best ballet dancer in your class. Right? Truth is — there’s no secret sauce to becoming the best. It’s all hard work. But to be the best requires that you have the “Best” mindset.
Wanting to be the best is easy. But actually becoming the best is much harder.
To be the best ballet dancer in your class it’s important that you work hard, learn, and practice.
Every dancer has areas that she/he may be weaker in, and being able to learn and practice until those areas are perfect is key to not just become the best in your class, but the best dancer you can be.
Here are three areas that you can work on immediately to become the best dancer you can be.
1. Focus on strength, endurance and flexibility. The sooner you start cross-training, the sooner you’ll build much-needed stamina and strength that helps to prevent injury. Focusing on your core and stabilizer muscles will make it easier for you to perform the various movements required by ballet.
2. Practice your positions and steps. A big part of becoming the best is having impeccable form. The only way you’ll get there is if you practice, practice, practice.
3. Listen to your teachers. Your teachers have trained hundreds of dancers and most gone through professional training. They know what you need to work on in order to constantly improve. Never be afraid to ask your teachers what areas they think you can improve on and tips that can help you improve.
Stella Abrera, American Ballet Theatre principal
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“It can feel overwhelming to try to balance everything in your life right now—academics, ballet training and competitions, the first glimmer of romance and your unsuccessful efforts to always appear cool. Decompress by taking time for your other interests, such as cooking, reading and just hanging out with your buddies.
Start cross-training now; it’ll build stamina and help prevent injury. Focus especially on strengthening your core, as well as all those little stabilizing muscles. And stop lugging that enormous backpack full of textbooks on just one shoulder! Use a rolling bag, just like Dad advises (and don’t get mad at him for being right about most things). Get massages and stretch consistently. Be aware of which foods make you feel healthy, energized and strong.”
Linda Celeste Sims, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
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“To be a dancer, you must be courageous! I’m going to be honest with you: Dance is one of the most difficult, challenging—and rewarding—professions out there. You’ll struggle with not being the best, and you’ll face impatience, doubt, insecurity, frustration and jealousy, as well as a constant need for perfection and attention. But you can overcome all this.
Use your emotions for good. Try to become stronger each day. Think positively and make the studio a retreat where you can escape and focus on yourself. Negativity is not a place of happiness. Positive competition is good, but don’t ever look in the mirror and think, Why don’t I look like her? God made us all different, so each of us has something special and unique to say with our gifts.”
Sascha Radetsky, former American Ballet Theatre soloist
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“Savor your moments on stage; relax and soak it all in. Take pleasure in moving through well-crafted choreography. Don’t sweat the small mistakes—they’re part of your development as an artist. Let the unique camaraderie of kindred spirits give strength to your performances. Remember that to dance at your best, you need to purge your mind of petty doubts and distractions. While this is no simple feat, it can be achieved through an awareness of the transient nature of this career.
The path you’re setting foot upon won’t always be smooth. Try to keep things in perspective. There’s an entire world out there beyond the little bubble that is ballet. Break free of that bubble from time to time, and you’ll evolve both as an artist and human being. Have faith that despite the ups and downs and inherent hairdo limitations, this course you’ve chosen can be beautifully rewarding.”
Chloé Arnold, tapper and co-founder of Syncopated Ladies
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“Dream huge, set your goals high and don’t let anything throw you off your path. Train with passion, focus and determination. A strong foundation will earn you respect in your field.
Be yourself: Wear your hair big and wild, rock the clothes that inspire you and tap your heart out! Your passion will take you around the world, and bring joy and happiness to your life and others’. Stay humble, be thankful and don’t let anybody steal your sunshine!”
PeiJu Chien-Pott, Martha Graham Dance Company principal
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“Great dancers challenge themselves and always push for more. Challenge is what makes you grow and become stronger. Competition, stress and injury are the three most difficult struggles you’ll face. Keep your spirits up! You’ll gradually learn how to adjust. You’re unique—just be yourself.
I know that preparing for performances is stressful for you. Try to find simple ways to help yourself feel better. Little treats may do the trick. Keep some dark chocolate in your dance bag, and when you’re stressed, have a bite—you’ll instantly feel like you’re in heaven.”
Val Chmerkovskiy, “Dancing with the Stars” ballroom pro
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“Be proud of what you’ve accomplished, but more importantly, be grateful: for your parents’ sacrifice, for your teachers’ influence, for your supportive friendships and for all of the opportunities that life has presented…and is yet to present.
Don’t dwell on your successes. Take a moment to appreciate them, but don’t let your ego prevent you from seeking continuous improvement and personal growth. Keep expanding your knowledge and always surround yourself with people who share the same ambition for personal development. As long as you learn, you live!”
Martha Nichols, commercial dancer and choreographer
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“You’re a work in progress. Have patience. Patience isn’t a synonym for waiting. It requires work, faith and endurance. Work toward what you want. If you don’t have it yet, there’s more work to be done. Study your craft. Don’t rush or give yourself unrealistic time frames. Take the time to do it right. Don’t focus on what you don’t have; this is a distraction. Focus on what you do have, and how to make it better.
Every so often, ask yourself why you want you want. Check in. Be open to your evolution. Be open to experience. Stay present and let your light shine. Remember loyalty, longevity, depth and respect over fame.”
Jessica Lee Goldyn, Broadway dancer
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“Live one day at a time and enjoy every moment. Take care of your body. Always warm up. Eat healthy, and stop obsessing over what you see in the mirror. You’re beautiful.
Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect—you’re perfect just the way you are. You’ll never please everyone, so focus on what makes you happy. I know you’ve sacrificed so much to do what you love, and you’ve missed out on a lot socially. But don’t worry about being ‘normal.’ You’re not normal, and you never will be. It’s your dorky, silly, zero-inhibition self that makes you wonderful.
Remember there’s more to life than singing, dancing and acting. After all, the more life experiences you have to draw from, the richer your performances will be. So live!”
Stacey Tookey, contemporary dancer, and choreographer
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“Don’t let fear hold you back. Being scared is an essential part of life. If you believe in your talent, you’ll discover that you’re the only person standing in your way.
Work hard at achieving perfection, but don’t beat yourself up. Being overly self-critical works to your disadvantage. (When you roll your eyes at yourself because you messed up a combination, it can be perceived as having a bad attitude.) Lighten up! It’s OK to make mistakes.
You’ll have ups and downs, but trust in the fact that you’re on the right track. Try not to be in a hurry to achieve everything all at once, because if you rush you’ll miss the fun of it all. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”
Jennifer Stahl, a principal dancer at the San Francisco Ballet
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“There are definitely times when it’s hard and you can lose track of the big picture and what’s really important,” Stahl said. “I think the key is being patient with yourself. It’s easy to want to just be back full force, but it’s important to know that every little step adds up, even if it’s tiny.”
How to get better, faster! — London Ballet Classes
London Ballet Classes
London Ballet Classes
Do you feel like you spend a lot of time dancing but make relatively little progress? Does it feel like irrespective of the effort you aren’t getting any better? As with everything in life, improving in ballet is about working smart, not just working hard. Practice for the sake of practice is ineffective, we must employ a great deal of consciousness in order to progress. Read on for our top tips on how to get better faster!
I swear by getting to every class 15 minutes early. Why? Because a warm up before class is excellent preparation – physically and mentally. Firstly, warming your muscles and body up with a few simple joint rotations, sit ups and kicks helps you to get far more out of the barre. A warmer body will give you a slightly greater range of motion and you will be more ready to push yourself. Secondly, a warm up before the barre is a quiet way to centre yourself, after a while you may find it becomes a little ritualistic and you feel weird without it. It is a few minutes to reconnect with your breath and get in tune with your body. This active effort of centring usually leads to better focus and a better class
Go back to the basics
Progress is quick in the beginning as there is so much we can learn. After a while of improving, we can feel we have plateaued, we feel stuck and simply can’t get to the next level. It could be that no matter how long you’ve danced, you still can’t pirouette, or your turn out is still stuck at 30 degrees! When we repeatedly hit a road block, it can indicate that our fundamentals aren’t quite right. Going back to the basics means checking the foundations of your training. Is your pelvis neutral? Are you engaging the right muscles? Do you start and land your moves in the right positions? Correcting our basic alignment can often dramatically improve our balance, coordination and the consistency of our movement
It is very tempting to ‘cheat’ in class – trust me, I get it. When I see my turnout in the mirror, I am certainly tempted to push my feet outwards and draw a perfect 180 line. All this does is strain my ankles and knees and limit my ability to work out the correct muscles. In general, forcing our bodies into positions we don’t yet have the strength or flexibility for is physically damaging and delays improvement. Whilst we may get away with it at the barre, it certainly won’t work in the centre. There is a definite trade-off between making a move look momentarily nicer and doing the move correctly. We may feel less good about the latter, but it provides an opportunity for genuine improvement. When we cheat, we remove that opportunity. Cheating means we train ourselves into creating the illusion of something, rather than actually doing it. It is hard to turn in and to lower the extensions, but sometimes it is necessary. We have to do things right before we can do them well
When people give you corrections – write them down!
This might sound obvious and basic, but it is true. Apparently, we retain approximately 20% of what we hear, hence, writing things down is an important exercise. Though we may absorb information in the moment, if you find yourself hearing the same corrections again and again, take the initiative to remind yourself and self-correct during class. The more progress we make on our own, the more our teachers can push us to the next level.
Do your work outside of the studio
Nobody ever got better by practising in the studio alone. This is a fact. Advancing in ballet depends a lot on conditioning. Strengthening your feet, improving your flexibility, core exercises and stamina are hard to develop in class alone. It is this conditioning that keeps you in peak physical condition and helps you to get the most out of your class. Enhancing your stamina helps you to push yourself in class, better core strength enables better extensions, and Pilates and yoga can improve general balance and coordination. In particular, if there is one move you just don’t get, you have to repeat it, again and again and again - in your own time! To improve, we need to rely on our muscle memory, there is simply not enough time in class to develop it. The majority of classes work your memory and your ability to learn and perform steps relatively quickly. A different set of skills is required to deeply understand the movement, even mentally visualising and recalling steps helps.
Choose a focal point!
There is so much going on in ballet – your feet, legs, core, arm alignment, head alignment and so on and so on! It can be so overwhelming, particularly when we try to master everything at once. To really improve, we need to be strategic. This can happen organically at the beginning of taking up ballet, e.g. you focus on your feet alone, because you don’t have the capacity to do anything else. However, once we get more coordinated and can follow classes better, we stop specialising, we try to do everything. I have a long list of things I am working on – all the time. And I know I can’t do it all at once. I often don’t hold my arms correctly and don’t engage my back, I also often sickle my feet. It is hard to improve everything at once. At the barre, I consciously focus on my feet, ensuring I use the floor and move through demi-pointe. Then in the centre, I shift my conscious awareness to my arms, and ensure they are fully extended.
It might sound like a lot of effort, but the conscious decision to focus on one thing can also make dance more enjoyable, it feels more manageable and we are better able to recognise when we have improved. Choose one thing to focus on at a time, and shift this focus throughout the class.
Learn the terminology
Becoming more familiar with the terminology can enhance your ability to pick up moves in class and put more complex sequences together. When the names of moves becomes more familiar, our mind is better able to comprehend a sequence of exercises. We can then shift our attention from memorising to executing, and this helps us to improve faster.
Lastly and most importantly, give up your sense of embarrassment
The biggest thing that deters us from improving is a fear of embarrassment, of getting things wrong and looking awkward. To improve, you need to challenge yourself. Once we get more comfortable, we can stop seeking this challenge out. We can get complacent and do what we know we can, afraid of looking silly if we try something new. Consciously push yourself in class. Try more turns, dance more expressively, stand at the front of class. For more ideas on how to do this – check out our blog post London Ballet’s Class Challenge’ - containing 10 ideas on how to push yourself further in class! Let us know how you get on.
Do you have any other tips on how to improve faster? Share them in the comments below!
Tagged: Beginner Ballet, Ballet in London, Ballet, Adult Ballet, royal ballet, ballet tips, warm ups, floor barre, holistic ballet, yoga, pilates, conditioning, dancer, dance
5 scientific steps that will make you a better dancer
A good dancer can command a crowd. Louis XIV studied ballet as a means to increase his status and influence, using his dance moves as a political tool. More recently, artists such as Sammy Davis Jr. and Beyoncé have become superstars because their dance moves have increased the power of their music. While being able to dance well may seem to depend on talent, science provides some clues about what can make someone - even you - a great dancer.
Step One: Touch Your Core
Basic locomotion, such as the ability to crawl, stand, and walk, develop in childhood and become second nature as our brains reinforce these activities into memory. By age 2, babies will be trying to jump to the beat of a song or try simple dance moves. Coordination and working out of these recesses begins after we have mastered the standing position with a neutral pelvis - a position in which the head, shoulders and hips are aligned when viewed from the side, with a slight bend in the lower back.
"A neutral pelvis may not only facilitate body movements in general, but also seems to improve certain actions in [the] hip and lower back," write Clara Fischer Gum and Else Urmsthom in an article published in the International Dance Society. Website of medicine and science. This alignment stabilizes the core, which supports more dynamic movement.
To find your neutral pelvis, Dance Magazine recommends lying on your back with your knees bent so that the natural curve of your spine creates a small space between your lower back and the floor. In this position, your hips should not noticeably lean towards the ceiling or floor; they should remain "neutral", creating an even level sufficient to balance a glass of water.
Step Two: Warm Up
After reaching a neutral pelvic position, stay in position for some stretching.
"One of the easiest ways to increase your body's range of motion is to generate heat through low-impact movements," says Marijan Liederbach, director of the NYU Langone Dance Injury Center. It also helps protect against injury.
Colin thanks you for what you do
“For [muscles] to have a safe range of motion, they need to warm up a bit,” Liederbach tells Trini Radio. When warm, muscles become more elastic, which means you can twist and bend more easily. Stretching encourages your body to engage in strenuous activity and reduces the risk of injury.
Step three: change your weight
In 2013, researchers from the UK conducted a study in which a group of 48 men and women assessed the quality of the movements of 30 male dancers. Their favorite features were bold and varied body movements, such as bending and twisting from side to side or back and forth, while incorporating vigorous arm movements. In 2017, the same researchers published a similar study 39dancers, all female students of British universities, in which it was suggested that stronger swinging of the hips and asymmetrical movements of the hips and arms are considered desirable character traits.
Mary Louise Wilson day by day
"Dancing [is] a human behavior that everyone does," Nick Neave, co-author and professor at Northumbria University, told Trini Radio. "We thought these movements would be honest signals - you can't fake them - so they give information about your health, your age, fertility [and] your reproductive stages." (Critics have argued that these conclusions are arbitrary because the sample sizes of the dancers were too small.)
So, get up and practice bending over from one foot to the other. Try bending your knees deeply or stand straight on the ball of your foot. Then shake your arms and legs. One could imagine one of these people in inflatable tubes, furrowing the wind.
Remember, the more you practice your movements, the smoother your movements become. “If people keep coming back to these basic elements of the movement, then they can intelligently evolve into any movement they want,” Liederbach says.
When it comes to timing with music, for most of us, following the rhythm is natural and natural. Being "deaf" is rare, but a 2014 study of two such people found that some people have a harder time synchronizing movements with external cues, such as music.
Step Four: Connect with other dancers
When you sweat, endorphins are activated that create feelings of pleasure and make dancing enjoyable, but there is also evidence that dance supports human connection. Article at Scientific American neuroscientist Jon Krakauer attributes part of this connection to cells called mirror neurons, which cause the moving areas of your brain to fire when you dance and when you watch others dance.
"Unconsciously you plan and predict how the dancer will move depending on what you do," writes Krakauer. So, if you can't pirouette, watching the ballet will still be helpful.
Mirror movement is also powerful in action. "There's something about doing the same thing at the same time with other people that really connects us and expands our sense of self," Scott Wiltermuth, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Southern California, told Trini Radio. From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense to enjoy good coordination with others: in early hunter-gatherer societies, cooperation meant survival, he says.
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Ilya Vidrin, Ph.D. a PhD candidate at the Center for Dance Studies in the UK and a Harvard Scholar suggests that qualities that strengthen relationships in life, such as the ability to pick up tonal shifts in voice and subtle shifts in body language, also strengthen partnerships in dance. "Obviously, just because you make eye contact [and] touch… doesn't mean you're connected," he tells Trini Radio.
Step Five: Be Sincere
According to Judith Lynn Hanna, an anthropologist at the University of Maryland, it's important to remember that the aesthetic attitude to dance depends on personal preferences, genre, culture and nation. For example, flamenco dancers demonstrate a strong connection to the ground through rooted footwork, while ballet dancers strive to maintain an elevated structure and elevate the body.
Among the Ubacal, an Igbo group in Nigeria, movement patterns reflect a person's personality. Women of childbearing age often dance in circular motions using smoother movements, while men dance vigorously like warrior patterns. However, the elders in the group tend to act like dance rioters; they often defy gender norms and dance however they like,” says Hannah. The ability to connect through movement keeps these dance forms alive.
No matter where you create your style, be yourself. “If people are afraid of looking stupid, if people are afraid of failing, they will probably be more afraid of dancing,” Vidrin says. No need to be afraid of the unknown on the dance floor.
How to become a choreographer? Dancer Tips | Culture
Choreographer is a choreographer, director of dances and ballet performances. A choreographer can work in the theater, make productions for clips and performances by stars, teach other people to dance. Choreographers are very popular people (for example, a dancer from England, Francisco Gomez, is known to many people, even those who are far from dancing) and earn very well. The net income of the richest choreographer in 2014 was $288 million.
Before you become a choreographer and learn to dance, you need to decide on a style. There are a lot of styles in dancing: ballet, ballroom dancing, modern, folk, swing and others. Nowadays, modern dances are gaining the most popularity, especially hip-hop, but do not forget about ballroom dancing and ballet. To choose a style, you just need to see what kind of person you are. If you like to improvise, choose hip-hop. Lovers of pair dances should take up ballroom dancing.
When you have chosen a style, you need to go to a dance school or studio. There are a lot of them now and it is difficult to choose, but many schools have trial classes. Through this activity, you will be able to understand if you like this school. When choosing a school, pay attention not only to the price and its authority. Watch the video of student performances. Talk to the students who work there. They will advise you.
Training at home
Training at school is not the main thing. Since you will have a maximum of 3 days a week of training with a teacher, and this is very little, you need to train at home. Fortunately, there are all conditions for this. There are a lot of videos and dance lessons on the Internet. Also practice at home what you learned in training. Stand in front of a mirror and dance, try it, or better turn on the camera and let it take pictures of you while you dance. Then see what didn't work for you and work on it.
If you feel like you have ideas, you know a lot, then it's time to train others.