Ballet appeared at the beginning of the 17th century. The first ballerinas danced at the royal court and wore long skirts and wooden-soled shoes. Ballet is very popular all over the world. Ballet classes strengthen the whole body, develop a sense of rhythm, teach you to better feel your body in space and improve coordination. Ballet dancers remain flexible with age, which is why ballet elements have become the basis for the training of dancers of all kinds. Ballet requires a lot of dedication and hours of work, but you can master the basics of ballet on your own to prepare for the class. Find out what it takes to get ready, master the basic positions, and try out the basic exercises that you will come across in the classroom in the future.
Method 1 of 3: Preparation
Step 1. Stretch your muscles before exercising
Stretching is needed to relax, strengthen muscles, and maintain correct posture. Stretch your muscles before each session, including before performing. It is important to stretch at least 15-30 minutes daily to warm up your muscles to protect them from injury. You can also stretch at the end of the session to relax.
Step 2. Practice with soft ballet shoes
Ballerinas should fit snugly on the leg, but not too tight, otherwise they can squeeze blood vessels and cause numbness in the feet. There are several types of ballet flats, so seek help from a consultant at a ballet clothing store or ask a teacher which shoes are right for you.
- Do not buy ballet flats for growth, because the extended foot will look relaxed in them. Tighten the elastic to make the ballerinas sit tighter. If the elastic extends to the little toe, shorten it to leave a short ponytail. The elastic helps the ballerinas to sit better - it is not designed to pull oversized shoes to the desired size.
- If you do not have the opportunity to buy ballet flats, do not be discouraged. Exercise in socks that don't stick to the floor because you will need to rotate.
Step 3. Put on comfortable, tight-fitting clothing
It is important that you are comfortable in your clothes and that the clothes are not too baggy and shapeless, otherwise you will not see in the mirror if you are doing everything right. It is best to dance in a simple black ballet leotard and pink tights. Pink or black ballet flats are suitable for this outfit.
If you are enrolled in a ballet school, ask your teacher if the school has dress requirements. In some schools, students are required to dress alike, in others it is sufficient to have a ballet leotard of any kind, tights and sometimes skirts. As a rule, it is required to come everywhere in tight clothes so that the teacher can see how the muscles are working
Step 4. Find a suitable place to study
In ballet, the most important thing is to memorize certain movements and bring them to perfection. The movements themselves are quite simple, but it takes years to learn how to perform them clearly and beautifully. Therefore, it is best to practice ballet in a ballet studio with a competent teacher who can correct the position of the arms and legs and show you how to perform all the movements correctly. There will be mirrors in the ballet studio to help you correct the position of your arms, legs and body, and which will be useful when practicing at the barn.
If you want to practice at home, you must have enough room to move. It is best to practice on a laminate or parquet floor. The back of the chair can replace the machine. Prepare a full-length mirror to better see your movements
Method 2 of 3: Ballet Basics
Step 1. Begin each session with exercises at the bar
The machine will allow you to memorize the basic movements that you will use in future dance. If you don’t know anything yet, your whole lesson will be held at the machine. Exercises at the barre will strengthen muscles, develop flexibility and joint mobility, so they should not be neglected. If you give up exercise at the barn, you will not be able to dance. Even professional dancers start their workout from the barre.
Step 2. Learn basic leg positions
The basis of ballet, on which more and more complex movements are built, are five starting positions (as well as the sixth, which is also called parallel). To master ballet movements, you need to remember and bring these initial positions to automatism. These positions should be stored in muscle memory so that you can always perform all movements cleanly and clearly.
Practice standing in a position facing or left side to the bar. Beginners usually start facing the barre while more advanced dancers start sideways
Step 3. Learn to get into the first position
In the first position, the feet should be deployed and brought together at the heels. The legs should be straight and should not be parted, the back should be straight, and the head should not be lowered. Strive for perfect posture and try to maintain balance.
Step 4. Learn to get into the second position
In the second position, the feet retain their position, but at the same time they need to be taken apart from each other by about shoulder width. This position is more stable than the first, but in the second position you need to maintain the same body position as in the first. Practice moving from position one to position two without changing the angle of your ankles.
Step 5. Learn to get into third position
To get into third position, pull back your dominant leg. The heel of the dominant foot should line up with the elastic on the ankle of the other foot. Don't fall back and keep your balance. Keep your legs straight and your shoulders back.
Step 6. Stand in fourth position
To move into fourth position from third, take your hind leg even further, redistributing the weight as when moving from first to second. Feet should be parallel to each other.
Step 7. Stand in fifth position
The fifth position is more difficult than the previous ones. Bring your back foot toward your front so that your heels touch your little toes. You can bend your knees slightly, but keep your back and shoulders straight. Try to train more often to move to fifth position.
Step 8. Finish the exercise by moving to sixth position
Bring your feet together with your toes turned forward.
Method 3 of 3: Plie, Tandu, Devlope
Step 1. Perform plie
Plie is a squat that can be performed in almost all positions. There are two types of plie: grand plie and demi plie. Beginners should perform plie in the first and second positions, more advanced ones - in all positions, except for the third and sixth.
- To do demi plie, turn your legs to the sides. Bend your knees and lower yourself down so that your shin and thigh are at a 90-degree angle to each other. Lean on your foot and lift your heels off the ground. The shins need to be strained.
- To make a grand plie, you need to go lower. The thighs should be practically parallel to the floor. At the same time, lower your hand down. Watch your back and posture as you plie.
Step 2. Perform tandu
Tandu is a sock pulling. Most often, tandyu is performed in a cross: forward, to the side, back and again to the side.
- It is not uncommon for beginner dancers to mark points on the floor with duct tape. You need to fully extend your leg in front of you with the heel out and back. The leg should travel the same distance forward, to the side, and back.
- The distance between the legs depends on the dancer and the length of the legs. The foot should form a triangle, and the supporting leg should be extended.
Step 3. Perform devlop
Stand exactly in fifth or sixth position facing or sideways to the bar. Over time, you will be able to perform devlop in the center of the hall.
- Take your leg to the side and lift it as high as possible. Stretch your toe all the time as you lift your leg. Make sure your knees are stretched out and your body position. Don't twist your hip to lift your leg higher. The leg should always be in an inverted position.
- Slowly lower your leg down and return your foot to the position from which you started (most often to the first or fifth).
Step 4. Try not to hold onto the machine
Check how well you are managing your balance. Lift your leg up without holding the machine. This exercise will make your muscles stronger. Do not sag or lean forward or to the side opposite to the outstretched leg.
Step 5. Step on your pointe shoes when you're ready
The next step is to dance on pointe - you will need to learn how to stand in pointe and keep your balance. This is one of the most difficult and interesting tasks in ballet, and you can move on to pointe shoes only with the help of a competent teacher. As a rule, they switch to pointe shoes after 4–5 years of ballet practice.
Do not step on pointe shoes without the teacher's permission. In many schools, teachers prohibit practicing pointe shoes even at home, because without proper preparation, muscles and ligaments can be stretched. Start with a couple of minutes on pointe shoes and gradually increase the duration of your workout
- Study in a professional ballet school. If you don't stretch in class, it could be a sign that the teacher is not qualified and that the school is not suitable for serious ballet practice. Try going to classes at a different school, or transfer to another school entirely.
- Don't step on pointe shoes until your instructor tells you you're ready. Without proper preparation, it is possible to injure the big toes, the bones of the feet, and even the legs themselves.
- Do not start ballet with pointe shoes and do not trust a school that offers pointe shoes to beginners right away. Only experienced dancers who have been practicing for several years can dance on pointe. You should also have strong ankles.
- New pointe shoes can be uncomfortable to practice and will take some time to wear. Try different models. If you only have one pair of pointe shoes, alternate them on your feet.
- Familiarize yourself with ballet terms before class so you don't get intimidated by unfamiliar words. It will be enough just to look through the list of terms. Most of the terms in ballet are of French origin, so don't be surprised at how they sound. Ask your ballet teacher for a ballet vocabulary recommendation.
- Ballet is a strenuous exercise that raises your heart rate. If you have heart problems, ballet can be harmful to your health. Get tested before class.
- Don't be nervous - stress will tighten your body. Relax your shoulders for real ballet posture.
- Don't try anything new without a teacher. So you can accidentally memorize something wrong, and then it will be difficult to correct it. In a good school, you will be worked slowly and thoroughly in the first months of class, so don't worry if you don't know anything yet. The main thing is the desire and willingness to work!
- Do not twist your legs forcibly. This can injure your knees. Eversion comes from the hips.
- Do not force yourself to do what you are uncomfortable doing. The teacher will show you the necessary exercises or even decide that you should not do some things, because your body is not adapted for them.
- Don't dance in your socks. You can slip and fall in your socks. Buy special rubbers from a dance store. If you don't have the opportunity to buy ballet flats or jazz shoes, and you are unable to perform rotations with bare feet, wear a sock only up to the middle of your foot so that you can always stop yourself with a heel.
- When lifting your leg, do not hold it in the air for a long time. Yes, this will strengthen the leg, however, due to such a load, the hips will grow, which is not welcome in ballet. Take your leg on the pass, relax your hip, and then extend your leg.