The world of ballet can be a confusing one. The first time setting foot in a studio can be an incredibly nerve racking experience!
Regulars have their certain places at the barre, the teacher can sometimes look a little scary (I promise you it’s just her/his really good posture that makes her appear a little intense!) and as you stand next to the barre nervously you notice that no one else has the elastics you’ve tied neatly into a little bow on their ballet shoes! Hint: you need to tie them in a knot, chop off the excess and tuck them into your ballet shoe…
SO WHERE DO I BEGIN?
Unfortunately it’s very hard to find adult ballet classes in Australia. There are plenty of classes overseas and amongst my favourite are ‘Steps’ and ‘Broadway Dance Centre’ in New York City – you know, in case you’re there next week…
However, if you’re lucky enough to find classes in your area, contact the studio first and check if you need to book beforehand. Although the majority of classes are run on a casual basis and all you need to do is show up.
If the studio offers various levels other than beginner, make sure you visit their website and read the level descriptions. ALWAYS start with the smallest/beginner level. It’s designed for the beginner and you can always move up from there.
DO I NEED TO WEAR A LEOTARD?
Do you need all the gear? Leotard, ballet shoes, skirts, pink leg warmers…tutu? Nope. If you turn up in gym gear you’ll be absolutely fine. In fact, as a teacher of adult ballet I absolutely love seeing my students in leotards, however after wearing them everyday from 7 years of age until I was 16, I personally don’t ever wear them in class. I prefer my Lorna Jane and Lululemon athletic gear.
My point is that you should wear what you’re comfortable in. If you YouTube ballet classes and stumble across a company class, you’ll notice the company members looking a little disheveled with their choice of clothing. This is often because they’re hiding a piece of their body they don’t like or covering a ligament that needs extra warmth because their injured.
I HAVE NO IDEA WHATS GOING ON…
You’ll be standing perfectly still with your feet in first position (you’re not even quite sure what that is yet…) and the teacher has just listed a thousand things you must be doing – pull up through your spine, activate your core, lift your chin, turn out from the top of your thighs, don’t roll the feet, pull the shoulder blades back into place and make sure you take a breath and relax!
Well you’re most certainly not feeling relaxed and you haven’t even moved yet. You’re also fairly sure the teacher just spoke french before. They did. Ballet terms are french and it’s how the ballet world communicates universally.
Yes, your brain will be absolutely fried after your first class! So go easy on yourself and understand that if you start coming consistently to class the exercises and language will quickly become more familiar.
EVERYONE IS STARING AT ME!
I promise they’re most likely not! To be absolutely honest, everyone in the class is concentrating so hard on themselves that they don’t have the time to stare at you and judge your technique.
The studio is a safe place to learn and if you’re a part of a fabulous ballet community you’ll find everyone is very welcoming and supportive of those wanting to learn. There is no room for being anxious and self conscious in the studio. Nothing is accomplished when you’re worried about what others think.