So, you just got given the reins to a beginners ballet class? Now what? Here in this post, we’ll give some useful advice on how to teach a ballet class to beginners. No matter if you’re new to dance instruction, or you’re an experienced professional, this blog is designed to give you some helpful pointers.
Beginner Ballet Class Setup
The first thing you’re going to want to do is preparing your own mind and body for the task of teaching. When you’re starting out as a dance instructor, knowing about teaching fundamentals is just as important as knowing how to dance. You should focus on improving yourself as a teacher right along with improving yourself as a dancer. You don’t need to go overboard though, focus on light readings related to the subject and keep it a practical as you can.
Starting with a new group of dance students is an exciting time! There are primarily two kinds of beginning ballet classes that you might find yourself teaching: Children’s and Adults.
Children’s: Believe it or not, you might find that the expectations are higher for you teaching ballet to children then they are when you’re teaching to adults. Depending on the age group, this can become more of a practice in crowd control than actually teaching ballet, but it’s still loads of fun. You have to realize also that the parents are your real customers, and they can be demanding to say the least.
Adult’s: Depending on your audience, beginning adult students might want very different things. Some people are going to be looking for a fun way to get in shape or improve flexibility. Other people might actually be serious about it as a pass time or are possibly thinking about performing in community theatre events. The sooner you know who you’re dealing with, the sooner you can start to plan on how to set up your class to best serve them.
First and foremost, before you can teach a ballet class to beginning students, you’re going to need a space to teach in. Finding great dance studios in your area available to rent has never been easier, so it shouldn’t be that difficult if you are running your own class. Most of the time though, you’re going to be brought in by a school or a community center to do this kind of job.
The actual space matters little, but it does need to have two major requirements in order to work, it needs to have a mirror wall and it needs a ballet barre. Without both of these things in place, you will find it next to impossible to teach a class effectively. Exercise bands and blocks are nice to have too, but you can run a beginning class without them no problem. Beyond that, the only thing you need is a group of willing students.
Teaching a Ballet Class for Beginners
For this particular article, we’re going to assume that you already have a class full of students and don’t have to do any marketing personally yourself. In this section, we’re going to run through some of the basic sections that a ballet class is made up of. Every ballet class since the dawn of ballet classes has started at the barre. After the barre, the rest of class will consist of different sections of exercises known as center work, adagio, allegro, and reverence.
Barre exercises are done first because they warm up the body and get your students ready for some more serious exercises. The idea is that with the barre there, students can focus more on strength building and form instead of balance.
You’ll usually plan to hold about half of each class exclusively at the barre, so it’s important for you to have a strong understanding of how to teach this section. Here is a great resource that explains some important barre tips that you should be practicing with your class.
You can think of center exercises as very similar to barre exercises only in the center of the room and unsupported by the barre. This is where a good portion of the actual learning of movement vocabulary and can be thought of as where you take what was learned in barre and applied.
These types of movements are slow and graceful. During adagio, dancers get to focus on the lines created by their bodies and controlling balance when their limbs are extended. Check out this article about different Adagio exercises you can perform.
As opposed to the Adagio movements, Allegro include faster pace steps, turns, and even jumps. These are the show-stopping advanced moves that take years to fully master. While it’s okay to introduce some of these movements to beginner classes, too much time shouldn’t be spent in this area when compared to the rest.
Every ballet class is ended with a reverence section which is a bow to show respect. This is a tradition that should fit into your class as well, even if it’s a beginner’s class.
You will have to read your class and decide what exercises are going to be the best for them. Build a daily set of movements and start to expand their difficulty as your class progresses. Based on the end goals of the people in your class, you’ll need to structure what you’re teaching to help them the best way.
Hopefully, this article gave you a clearer understanding of what is required to start a beginning ballet class. Teaching ballet is a very rewarding a fun thing to do, so remember to enjoy it!
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