The CCD Blog

How to Work Your Best in Class

1. Some people seem to have it easier than others, however hard work can payoff in dividends!

If you love dancing, let it bring you joy. You will be rewarded for your hard work as you put your best foot forward. Little milestones will begin to show!

The day you land your first pirouette or the first day you go on pointe can be euphoric. All the blood, sweat, and tears that went into landing that glorious pirouette should not be taken for granted. Set goals, work hard and celebrate even the small wins with your friends in class.

2. You will balance better and improve if you let go of the barre or of a fear

You first start studying classical ballet at the barre, doing exercises to warm up the body and build technique. The barre reflects your future dance partner, so try not to hold on too tight. Your goal is to move away from the barre and dance freely in the center without support.

Without the barre, you will feel like your body is unable to function like at the barre. At the barre, your balances will be better, your grand battements stronger and higher, but once you let go you will notice the difference! Test your balance during the barre so you stay on the ball of the foot, not your heel. Students cannot progress unless they let go of the barre! You will be surprised how you may not need the barre so much. It is there to assist you, not to be a crutch. Step out of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself and dance free of the barre!

3. Consistency pays off in improvement and strength

If you are serious about ballet or any dance form, then you need to increase the number of days you dance as you get older. When you are ten years of age you should be taking ballet 3 times a week. This includes stretching and doing your exercises to build strength at home. You may not notice progress for a while. Slow and steady wins the race! Over time, your body will start to remember movements, often called muscle memory. You will surprise yourself how you can progress over the months with consistency.

You need to be consistent dancing including over the summer to retain what you have achieved and to continue to build strength. Muscles loose strength and muscle memory as we grow along with our minds. Consistency is key to all you do. Never stop practicing, keep learning! It will pay off one day.

4. Flexibility is not required; it can be improved

Flexibility in ballet is physical and mental. By dancing in the annual show, you may learn to be flexible with a wardrobe malfunction, falling, facing the incorrect direction and maybe choreography changes before you go onstage. Dance with an open mind, and it will help you cope with life’s stresses.

5. Try not to stress about mistakes including bumping into others; we learn from mistakes

Keep dancing until the music stops playing then apologize to one another. It was not intentional; we just need to be more aware of our spacing—try not to sweat the small stuff or hold grudges. If someone does something nasty, brush it off like it’s no big deal. You will be happier this way, trust me. Life is too short to be holding grudges. Forgive and move on.

6. Young at heart is always a good start

However, it’s never too late to start to make positive changes in your life. Don’t let your age stop you from doing something you love. It’s never too late to try something new!

7. Someone will be better than you and offer you another opportunity for growth

It is hard to accept, but there will always be someone better than you. At something. Remember you are better than someone at something too, so don’t let that bring you down. We all compare ourselves to other in class and can get depressed with thinking, “Why can’t I dance like her?” Instead, look at what they do and try to analyze how they can do certain things and apply that to improve your technique.

Feeling happy for other in classes and applauding their success will lift you up as well. Never compare yourself to others. Celebrate other people’s successes with them and use them as a source of inspiration!

8. Never think you’re too good to go for a lower level class

Did you know the great British ballerina, Margot Fonteyn regularly took beginning ballet classes to clean and perfect her technique!

Sometimes I attend a class that is at a level below mine. Doing the simplest things slowly can be much more difficult than attending an advanced-level class. In an advanced class, the combinations are more complex, more difficult that sometimes you are focusing all your mental energy on getting it right the combination correct, but not doing the steps well. However, in a beginner class, you already know all the steps and it gives you time to work on executing everything perfectly.

These slower classes remind me of how much work I put into dance. And it’s always nice to see other motivated students and witness their progress. Sometimes beginning dancers are more motivated than advanced-level dancers.

Never think you’re too good for something. Stay true to your roots, your values, and your beliefs.

9. The best way to give back is to teach others

If you see someone struggling, offer to help. Helping others, helps ourselves refine our knowledge and technique and can spread the knowledge and joy.


Ballet for Fitness Without Fear

Ballet fitness has been a trend around for decades! Why else do people flock to Barre classes to sweat, yet not dance and have pleasure! Have no fear about trying a strenuous ballet class and enjoy the experience. Here are some myths and how your inner ballet dancer can shine!

1. Coordination, flexibility, and thinness are not required for ballet.

You can start ballet at any age, even in your 70s. Forget perfectionism and competition. This is time for yourself to do something you always wanted to try while conditioning and stretching your body both mentally and physically. And the camaraderie!

Ballet is a wonderful workout that can put you in the best shape of your life. The structure of a ballet class including the barre and center works to tone your entire body, including arms and legs.

2. The only thing barre class and real ballet class have in common is the barre.

It is helpful to know what to expect, Barre classes and full ballet classes are not the same! Posture and form are important aspects to ballet technique. Your entire body is engaged in each exercise.

Barre classes use props to contract muscles in repetitive routines to sculpt specific areas of the body. There are no props in ballet class unless you consider the barre, your partner, a prop. Your own body works with gravity to provide resistance while you use your whole body during each exercise. You use your abdominals and back throughout class while extending, bending, and raising your arms and legs. Over time your full range of movements will become fluid and elegant.

Ballet emphasizes moving with proper alignment working efficient and fluid body mechanics. That means your legs (calves and thighs), hips, waist, bottom, back, and arms become stronger, longer, and leaner affording greater poise. Ballet can change how your body looks and how you move with music to inspire.

3. A ballet workout can be intense like a boot-camp workout.

The intensity of class builds as you progress over the weeks. The first class may leave you wondering whether you are working your body fully, within a month you will be aware how many parts of your body may feel fatigued or leaves you sore when you awake the next day!

The more familiar and proficient you become in your ballet technique, the more you will see the fruits of your labor. No need for calisthenics or crunches, ballet’s total-body workout can ultimately develop long and toned muscles, as well as a strong, athletic body. Ballet dancers are among the strongest and most versatile athletes in the world; they make it look effortless. That is the artistic side of ballet!

Ballet is about strength and control. Ballet can offer long, lean, strong, and flexible muscles when performed properly and offer balance, control, grace and posture. Ballet can also work to protect your body from injury and enhance all your other activities! Football players have been known to take ballet like Lynn Swann, Vance Johnson and Akili Smith to help their game with speed, agility, flexibility, and strength- just to name a few! See: What Ballet Does for Football.

Hundreds of years ago ballet was only for the privileged few when Louis XIV used ballet for entertainment and to build an elegant physique. Today ballet is more accessible than ever. So, try some pliés and relevés, and find your dancer’s body as you move with elegance and ease!


Remember every correction is a gift

Your teacher is taking time to work with you because they believe you can improve and grow!

  • If you struggle to understand a correction, speak with your teacher after class. Ask for clarification so you can work the correction and use it in all your classes. Sometimes another teacher may say it a different way or give you a different point of view.
  • If you understand the correction, yet your body can’t do it yet, be patient: all takes time and perseverance. Sometimes a teacher can offer you additional exercises or stretches to do on your own. Practicing at home may help you improve faster.
  • Once you understand a correction and can do it, yet not consistently, do not get frustrated. Understand change takes time and consistent practice. I recommend the following to assist you:
    • Write your corrections in a notebook and how it feels as you work the correction in your body. Review those corrections before your next class.
    • Try to work on your corrections during each class. Corrections are weakness that we all must overcome! When you are going through a growth spurt or are tired is when we must tend to them more.
    • Pick one correction to work on for the entire barre. Then apply it during your center work. Your focus and work will pay off in time!
      • For instance, you may work on your body placement. At the start of each exercise, make your placement a priority. Then at the end of the exercise, get the best placement you possibly can.
      • Gradually the better placement from the beginning of the exercise will last a little longer and a little longer. Again, be patient!
    • Pretend your favorite or most demanding teacher is standing next to you while you are dancing. Remember they care about you achieving your best!
    • It is important you take a correction with a good attitude. Sometimes it is difficult to have your teacher tell you that you need to fix something. Don’t let your disappointment show! Making a face and rolling your eyes tells your teacher that you don’t want or appreciate help.

Some teachers have a difficult time pinpointing what is wrong, but they are still seeing SOMETHING; it is like putting a puzzle together. Try to look at things through your teacher’s eyes, you might be able to give yourself the correction.

A teacher’s job is to help you become a better dancer. If you take corrections well, your teacher will feel like she is helping you be a better dancer and you are giving your teacher a gift in return. She or he will want to help you more and more. A student who takes corrections well is gratifying to teachers.

Always smile and thank your teacher for your correction. Then go for it! The more you are able apply your corrections, the more your dancing will improve. This is priceless. This is our own reward and a wonderful achievement!


7 Valuable Life Lessons You Learn From Dancing

Photo-dancers forming heart shapeThe dance studio can become a second home, a part of your heart. Through all the shows including the open houses, outreaches at area schools, costumes, make-up, hairspray, injuries and friendships both on and off the stage you can learn things about yourself and about life.

Some of these lessons will help you in the future.

  1. You will learn the importance of hard work and dedication. To be completely dedicated to something will including no “skipping” classes or rehearsals to hang out with your friends, or to go to that party — dance can come first, and you will still have time with your friends after class or rehearsals.
  2. You will push your limits. Your teachers will never want to see you fail. They will challenge you to go where you do not realize you can go, to achieve that which you cannot imagine. When you fall, we will pick you up. When you make a mistake, we will help you figure out how to get better. Falling is a part of life as well as getting back up to move forward.
  3. You will understand the importance of perseverance and discipline. For instance, you may not have the perfect feet (neither did I), but we will guide you to have the opportunity to study pointe if that is your desire. If you have a dream you will work daily with all your teachers to be the best dancer. You can achieve your fullest potential.
  4. You will understand humility. To be humble and gracious after wins and applaud all of those around you for their willingness to try. You will understand that the only person you should compete with is yourself and to strive to overcome obstacles and continue to grow. You will begin to know that what truly matters is performing to your personal best every day.
  5. You can learn from others around you. You will understand how to look to others for inspiration and insight without begrudging what appears to be easy for them. Willingness to see how others can help us through life is part of the challenge.
  6. You will appreciate the importance of teamwork. Everyone one needs to be giving their all every time or else the entire ensemble suffers. To think about others and not just yourself all the time will carry you far and open many friendships.
  7. You will find how amazing life can be due to your passion. Love what you do, and that passion will motivate you to push forward when it becomes difficult. You can preserve!

Dance can be a passion, hobby, and sport. It can be a part of your heart and soul, a need like water to drink and air to breath. You will have a family of friends throughout your life like yourself who will eat, drink, sleep, and breathe dance.


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