About our classes…
We work with students on an individual basis because each student has unique strengths. We encourage every student to build on their gifts and strengths for progress in every class.
Each class level should be thought of, not as a grade in school where students are expected to jump to another class after 36 weeks, but a group of grades. We offer free student evaluations for those uncertain of their class levels. We also require approval from the ballet mistress, Conni Berns, for any student training in pointe shoes.
Think pre-school. If a student begins at an earlier age, they may expect to be in this level longer. Students progress to the next level at around the same age they make the transition to first grade, when holding focus and expending a large quantity of physical energy for a full hour can be achieved.
Beginner Ballet: Ballet I & Ballet II
Think Elementary School. This is when we lay in all the important foundations for good technique: proper foot alignment, the basics for turnout, and learning to hold the spine in a good posture for ease in balance. All the basic locomotors, basic rhythm steps like waltz, march, polka; basic positions, kinds of jumps, arm qualities, and the basic, standard forms of steps like glissade, pas de chat, and sissonne will be learned with correct French terminology. In all of this the student will learn the concept or idea for the step long before the body will be able to physically achieve the skill, so patience must be employed to balance the physical training with creative metaphors and ballet stories. By practicing the physical skills as games and stories, students will enjoy the necessary repetition for excellent physical training, while learning to express themselves through the movement and music.
Advanced Beginners or Adult & Teen Ballet
Very often a 9 or 10 year old, or an older student may be able to progress through the foundational skills more quickly due to a more advanced capacity for focus, a greater determination to rehearse outside of class, or an interest to train in more classes per week. Other students may have physical training in other dance forms or in other sports where much of the needed physical strength may be already attained, even as the student needs to learn the vocabulary and style. For such students we try to maintain optional class times that cover the same foundations at a faster, more intense pace. For Advanced Beginners, basic foundations will be built upon with added vocabulary and more advanced techniques to prepare for advancement to Intermediate levels. Ballet II is recommended for advanced beginners ages 8 – 13. Our Teen & Adult Ballet is designed to lay an excellent technical foundation with individualized attention. Ideal for teens performing with dance teams, adults looking for more creative and enjoyable exercise or anyone who has just always wanted to dance!
Think middle school. The foundations are still maintained and emphasized, but with a deeper understanding, and applied to variations in direction, tempo, and style. Steps that were learned and practiced individually are now practiced in longer combinations, testing memory as well as focus. As with middle school aged students, physical progress is often interrupted by growth spurts and other physical changes that add stress to the body in training. Physical training is further intensified in preparation for pointe shoes, an event that relies on individual physical growth and development. At this level classes are one and a half to two hours in length.
Ideally this is the college- pre professional level. Naturally this is the place where everyone wants to be, but respect demands that these classes be reserved for only the most advanced students. After all we all may be able to walk, but how many of us are on the Olympic track team? In other words, even those students already rehearsing more advanced steps may not have the physical development to take the class without developing bad habits or even suffering injury. As with beginner students the mind will often grasp the concept, the name of the step, even the sequence of movements before the body has attained the physical development necessary to execute the step at an advanced level. Therefore students and parents need to trust the judgment of our ballet mistress Conni Berns for final class recommendations.